Flip the Furniture

There are a couple of things I love about this picture.

First, my toes are painted – praise be. Thank goodness I had a little color going on seeing as I would use this picture in a blog post – naked toes are all sorts of embarrassing. 🙂

Second, I can look straight through the corridor of my house to my front door from this vantage point.

As a coaching family living on mission in one of the most prolific financial brackets in the world we have been snuggled in our precious little rent house, affectionately named the Hobbit House, now for four years. It is a small plot of earth compared to most, but I can guarantee it is bursting at the seams with real life, hard love and good food most of the time. So yes, when I sit on my bed in my room I can see straight through my entire house to the front door. It hasn’t always been this way though.

I know we are all blown into 2018, but I am truly just coming up for air enough to write through the process of how 2017 offered us a string of hard days. Which saying “hard days” is a massive understatement if I really dwell on the captivated nature of endurance we stepped out of December 31st into January 1st with. We navigated unexpected betrayal, dark financial days, and heavy tension in our married life off and on all last year. Ya’ll, when I say Joy is real for us I do wholeheartedly mean it. But please know in equal parts when I say it’s “heavy boots” around my tribe I wholeheartedly mean it.

What you see is what you get with the Trotter’s top to bottom. We certainly aren’t smart enough to fake it. From about April to August the heaviness of burden just wouldn’t lift and it seemed as if an unfamiliar fog blanket had come across the horizon of our Trotter Tribe. Like being wrapped up in a too hot feather bed our arms and legs couldn’t seem to kick off the blanket. When one area of life settled it seemed as if another area of tension would heat up. 

In the darkest moment of defeat last year I decided to flip the furniture instead wallow in self-pity. And yes I mean literally flip the furniture in my house. You women will understand where I am coming from. It’s like all of the sudden you can be sitting in a perfectly good room, look around, freak out, and want to put everything you own on the front lawn and completely start over. Anyone else? From top to bottom I spent 5 days completely flipping our small Hobbit House and gutting all the rooms and all the things cluttering up our lives and hearts.

One strategic piece of furniture I flipped was how our bed was arranged in the Master bedroom.  

I flipped our bedroom so as to wake up and see everything coming towards us. For three years we have had our bed up against the opposite wall which faces the furthest back wall to our house and for endless nights of difficult life Toby and I would crawl into bed and fall asleep with our backs to more than just our house. We wanted so desperately to fall asleep to our life.

Have you been there before? Where you are probably high functioning, but the assaults are so depleting you can’t possibly stay alert to all that is happening and it would seem to be easier just to turn your back and fall asleep?

We fell asleep with our backs to our life ya’ll. And I can tell you one thing for sure thing – nothing about sleeping on your life is easier.

It might seem like a silly idea to you, but for us it shifted the atmosphere in our hearts and by rearranging the furniture there would be no more falling asleep to our life. No more fear. No more avoidance. No more passivity. No more backs turned to our life. Head on is how we planned to face every square inch of earth we step on. One of my favorite scriptures is Ephesians 5:14 and I believe I find a way to use it in every talk – “Awake and arise O Sleeper and the Light of Christ will shine on you!” Activating it in our Homelife was necessary.

The shocking part to the whole narrative of 2017 for the Trotter Tribe is that we are spiritual attackers by nature and have always lived life head on. To find ourselves in a perplexing spot to lust after numbness was bizarre. But guys….new levels, new devils. In 2017 there were areas God simultaneously opened up new territory of success just as much as we felt an assault to our spiritual lives, but we as a tribe were not prepared for just how assaulting the season of spiritual warfare would be in order to take hold of that Kingdom territory and it nearly took us out.

Speaking so bluntly here : it nearly took us out. It rearranged our priorities, relationships, goals, spiritual life, grace and obsession with God’s Word. OBSESSION with God’s Word. {I will certainly have more to say on the obsession with God’s Word in the days and months to come, but for now dog ear that thought and stay tuned.}

But…guess what? Here we are in 2018 and you know what…2017 DID NOT take us out. To the devil’s grief 2017 emboldened our faith and solidified our trust in the all knowing character of God. As Christine Caine says, “On the devil’s best day he didn’t take you out. You’re still here. You still have a hope and a future.”

The first morning of 2018 I woke up early, reached for my Bible and realized I was not only awake to tackle any warfare potentially arising against the reception of the Promises of God I was alert and facing the front when my precious baby girl slipped out of her room and into mine with her fluffy stuffed lamb. There was no magic in flipping the bed, but there was a physical change that motivated a spiritual awareness. Because sometimes we need to flip the furniture.

Let’s flip the spiritual furniture in 2018….

Raise Your Expectations!

It’s astounding how the consistency of a season of harsh unforgiving circumstances can lower your expectations. I get it. I have certainly lived it. The important thing to remember is to stay aware of when you are authorized to march into a new season of promises and flip the furniture and step in. Warring against the propensity a defeated spirit would have to lower expectations is paramount to receiving the fullness of Promises and Miracles. I say let’s banish old habits and stretch our faith, timid as it may feel, towards lifted expectations to see a movement of God through all we have navigated. And yes, I am saying “WE” because anytime I am sharing with you about my life I am under the assumption we are walking together. So let’s lift our expectations to the expectations of a High God who wants to satisfy more than our mere hunger pains. God desires to see us feast on the goodness of His graces in 2018. Flip the furniture on watered down expectations – Flip the bed around and let’s take the vantage point of Heaven and see great blessings coming towards us as we tackle life head on.

Hope Purifies!

Hope deferred certainly can weaken even the strongest heart. One of my favorite Christmas movies is “Its a Wonderful Life” and in its opening scene the angels are discussing George Bailey’s problems and one angel says to another “No, worse…he’s discouraged.” Nothing can kill hope like discouragement. But nothing can make a life rise to the fullness of it’s overcoming power like Hope. That’s why there is such a great fight against your life being filled with Hope. All your sufferings are not to be grieved. Truly. They are to be celebrated and even if it takes all remaining strength to HOPE AGAINST ALL HOPE – stand firm and HOPE. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces HOPE, and HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” {Romans 5:3-5} And our HOPE? Our HOPE actually purifies our hearts and renews our energy. When you feel overcome by defeat prayerfully ask for God to negotiate fresh HOPE from some aspect of your life and the ground you are currently occupying. DECIDE to believe and allow HOPE to rise within you. It will purify your soul, regenerate your mind and clarify your thoughts. Flip the spiritual furniture and choose hope.

Expect Expansion and Effectiveness!

When I flip my furniture and gut my house I am motivated to create space for expanded growth and more effective hospitality. It produces an atmosphere for more effectiveness if my tribe and the company we keep are not cluttered by old things. In 2018 let’s flip the spiritual furniture in full expectation it will produce for us expanded effectiveness. No more stagnant relationships. No more stagnant dreams. No more stagnant emotional circles. No more shame. No more unredeemed guilt. No more fear. Let’s let some people off the hook in our lives, offer forgiveness so everyone gets the benefit of expanded effectiveness. Let’s allow some new levels of obedience to push us past our self preservation. Let’s see 2018 open the door with FULL welcome expansion and effectiveness.

Where is God asking you to Flip the Furniture in 2018? I would LOVE to know how some of you plan to raise your expectations, be purified by Hope and expand your lives for effectiveness. Leave a comment below! 

Absolute

Whew. 2017 was a doozy. A DOOZY with a wild ride to cap it all off! #trottertribe spent the year on our faces in surrender and then put a wrap on it with 40,000 people in AT&T stadium to win the UIL 5A State Championship for the second year in a row. Back to back Championships. That’s 32 football games in 16 months. Most football teams don’t play that many games in 3 years. We watched God work and weld hard faith. God attentively cast away fears and built up a solidified trust in the gracious provisional nature of His Love as we grasp for new energy and deeper commitment to each other and to the mission to love and serve and believe.

Felt the tension in pretty much every area of our lives in 2017. You name it, God battle tested it.

Absolute Surrender was the ask for our tribe in 2017. God not only drew us into surrender, accepted our surrender, cared for us in the days of our surrender, but worked in us HIS power, blessing, humility, depth and meekness. A simplified act of surrender has felt feeble and gross so much of the time, but it has given us a real possession of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Absolute Surrender has granted us real possession of the Holy Spirit.

His activated work, love, guidance, power…..victory in this season of life has come on the conditions of surrender. A full lean into the Anchor of God asking for daily bread, daily focus, daily interactions and daily stewardship of faith.

Surrender cannot be self focused; it must be faith focused. 

Each new day we have had to be leaned in together reminding each other to dash distractions and stay completely occupied with Jesus and His activity. It’s been a messy year of surrendering so much of our “selves” BUT in the mess I sense our tribe finding a message.

God does not leave His children in the ash heap….and we are discovering a beauty rising above the flames of surrender to formulate into a message.

We have discovered that in absolute surrender all your Hope rests in the assurance of Jesus and with that Hope you are purified, cleansed, set free. So we keep hoping and continue surrendering. We’ve had to claim with gut and gumption the realization of miracles not only for ourselves but in the seeking for miracles we’ve looked to the right and left and been woven together with a whole slew of miracle seeking believers. Miracles for finances, miracles for health, miracles for love, miracles for moves, miracles for jobs, miracles for relationships, miracles for spiritual growth, miracles for healing. Surrender produces miracles. Absolute Surrender catapults you into the company of miracle seekers. Those who are continually asking God to eradicate self-centeredness and insert unity in prayers, Kingdom, and mission.

God might have asked surrender of us, but it is God alone who has kept us faithfully in it.

It is HIS fellowship that has maintained our energies to stay surrendered, tenderhearted and attentive to what God’s desires are for our tribe. As the pages of 2017 slip into the new year we realize more than ever the extreme requirement on our lives to “take EVERY THOUGHT {project, idea, conversation, dream, motivation, relationship, invitation – EVERYTHING} captive into the obedience of Christ.” {2 Corinthians 10:5} and we are reminded and renewed with energy to take the EXACT SAME IDEA into 2018. Absolute Surrender was not just an end of year fad for our tribe….God has made it very clear – surrender is a lifestyle.

Absolute Surrender must be a lifestyle so as to see God ignite power, might and great fruit for His Kingdom in all our lives.

Yielding all in order to gain all. Let’s make the emptying of our lives and the seeking of God’s FULLEST presence fill 2018 to overflowing.

 

 

I Surrender.

I surrender

Not my will, but Yours be done.

Not my strength, but Yours alone. 

Nothing else, but you Oh Lord…I find everything in You.

I surrender.”

Surrender is a tricky word in our modernized vernacular these days. Hard to articulate the full weight of it’s meaning because surrender is ultimately difficult work. 

Surrender drags all sorts of under the soil roots choking out our growth to the exposure of the surface. Surrender requires admission, submission and acceptance that it is not about our will, our strength, or anything else we bring to the table. Surrender requires deliberate desperate dependance DAILY on the Only One worthy of our bouquet of affection….but, we’re human and conditioned to believe the word {surrender} might be something to the effect of head down, shoulders slumped, waving a white flag.  Doesn’t seem like a victorious posture to me.

{I Surrender} is one of my all time favorite hymns, but if I’m gut level honest I don’t affectionately adore the idea of surrender. When the rubber meets the road surrender doesn’t make a very exciting insta story kinda deal. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not one to surrender easy. I like to talk and write most about how we don’t give up, we fight. We won’t give in or we won’t let go of the fullest activity out of life, we won’t stop, we negotiate deeper strength, we will march on to bigger and better and we will do it ALL right now because we can and we should.

Guys, the truth is I wake up most days visualizing my life like the scene from Braveheart where William Wallace is riding on horseback across the battle field wearing blue war paint smeared all over his face while lighting torches on fire. Victory to me LOOKS a certain way in my human imagination. The posture of victory in my humanness LOOKS and is seemingly most enjoyed when we are standing tall on a mountain we have climbed for all to see. I’m the first in line for an old fashioned pep talk. I’m a coach’s daughter, a forever cheer captain and a coach’s wife. Locker room victory “we will not surrender” pep talks are my jam.

But friends, surrender IS the victory.

Being a follower of Christ means emptying ourselves over and over again and surrendering so we can stand on HIS STRENGTH AND VICTORY. Surrender IS the Victory. Actively and consistently receiving the fullness of the Kingdom happens as we surrender, let go, turn our palms up and let God know with no amendments, terms or conditions on our part …..

“I surrender.”

Doors opened up wide during the last half of 2016 and first half of 2017 for my Trotter Tribe. It was thrilling, but it took more out of us than we could have ever imagined. Life was moving, creating, building and bursting spring bulbs of spiritual growth, professional growth and ministry growth that had been under the ground of our heart for years. We spent the school year just trying to keep up. My tribe fired up for 22 weeks of straight football in the fall where Toby, my Coach Man, worked 7 days a week until we won the State Championship in December. We took a brief break for Christmas and then he was back at it for spring track and individual lessons working 7 days a week again to the end of May. I navigated a major ministry event, Arrows LIVE, in Dallas the first of December for 250 women. My ministry created 5 local Becoming Intensive events reaching well over 100 women total. I wrote, recorded and developed content for 100 Becoming App devotionals. Toby and I developed and taught original content for a community group at our church from January through May. Because we were not taking steady stock of the number of activities our kids were in we began running a ragged race of FOMO {Fear Of Missing Out} activities and by May the wear and tear was showing. We were cultivating the earth, planting ideas, coaching, building teams on the field, building teams in ministry, driving, pushing, entertaining, mentoring, speaking, teaching, writing, failing, trying again, and again, watering, hustling the heck out of life and we were exhausted beyond recognition. We spent a heavy year on a wild ride of growth, no sleep and exhilarating days.

But let’s pump the breaks right here.

Towards the end of the spring with the strain of our already increasingly bananas life my tribe was thrown into navigating an unexpected situation that demanded every ounce of what we had left emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. It was the worst kind of cocktail. Where we already felt emotionally and spiritually bankrupt the final days of spring wore our hearts down to the nubs. We nearly lost ourselves. I lost my physical voice and felt like I was loosing my Kingdom voice as well. Weak and weary is a soft explanation for the amount of exhaustion we felt as a tribe.

A whisper rolling into a Roar begin to call out to me during those excruciating days as school ended for my tribe. The new levels of expectations, ridiculous calendar speed, the unfamiliar and alarming situation we didn’t expect threatened to put us in a paralyzed heart place and it felt straight up terrifying. However, the Voice speaking over my soul wanted me alert and awake and no matter what felt disordered around me, IN THE MIDST OF THE SWIRLING CONFUSION OF THE UNDER TOW, I could still hear A Voice.

We all have scenarios happen and it can either jolt us awake or we allow it to lull us to sleep. It woke me up.

I love the way Jesus Calling describes the heart of God in His Whispers….

“Come to Me. Come to Me. Come to Me. This is My continual invitation to you, proclaimed in holy whispers. When your heart and mind are quiet, you can hear Me inviting you to draw near. Coming to Me requires no great effort on your part; it is more like ceasing to resist the magnetic pull of My Love.”

I’ve spent summer quieting my soul and leaning in to listen to the Voice I heard calling like my life depends on it. Because it does.

The Roaring Whisper was a Voice I know. A Voice I’ve spent 29 of my 37 years on earth intuitively getting familiar with. A Voice that I’ve felt rumble through my bones in the highest elations of life and the darkest hours of night. The Voice of the Good Shepherd who has whispered every ounce of authentic Victory into my life steadily saying.…”Surrender, Cari. I want you to surrender. Don’t go another step. Don’t start another project. Don’t build another team. I want you to lay everything down and I want you to simply rest in Me. With palms up and surrendered expectations. Be desperate and dependent on hearing My Voice at every turn. Surrender is what’s next. Surrender your plans, current roles, relationships, expectations, platforms, time frames, activities, ambitions, be still and press in.”

There’s a propensity in the believing community to SAY we want what God wants and we are yielded only unto Him. But I’m going to get gut level honest in saying working out surrender is hard. And it’s gross. So as we walk down the road of surrender we start to think this is way harder than expected and demanding way more of me than I ever thought I’d have to give over.

We ignore the signs of fatigue or damaged spiritual and emotional walls around us. We ignore it because we will “get to it later” or “if we just keep pushing through and doing more now we will reach a break through”….and all the while the Good Shepherd sees our struggle and circumstances forthcoming and patiently whispers – “Surrender, and find everything in Me for each new turn and each new day.” The Creator of the Universe gives us a Divine grace to play an active part in the narrative of this world. With that said, He has every right to flip the script every day, open your mind’s eye to see with greater understanding in regards to what’s happening with each new season of life and ask you to shift gears. {Jeremiah 29:11} Surrender becomes a choice. Our way or His way? And His way is always better.

“Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” {Psalm 37:7}

So I have spent an entire summer pondering surrender. Our summer has been packed full of hilarious fun, but it has been hard. Meditating on what it really means to be desperate and dependent on God and surrender is just not easy, my friends. Surrender has taken guts and diligence and humility. We spent the summer traveling here and there and on loads of happy trips, but all the while we have been clearing the “life table” so to speak over all the projects, activities and possibilities in front of our entire tribe and verbally saying, “Okay God, here it all is. We surrender. It’s yours. You work through each part and breath life on YOUR projects, YOUR activities, YOUR relationships, YOUR possibilities. We surrender sin and all areas of unrighteousness and oppression. Cut what doesn’t belong and restore what needs our attention. We surrender.”

Surrender boils down to trust. Trusting God is presenting us each with an invitation to intimacy not condemnation over what we haven’t done, but deeper and better intimacy. Surrender cuts off all dead weight. Intimacy creates opportunity for God to heal our souls and dig out weeds choking out our longterm growth. Surrender has unearthed the importance of me pressing into the roles I am CURRENTLY occupying and granting greater margin to roles needing my full focus. Saying no more often so I can say yes better. Surrender looks like quieting my soul. Stewarding better so I can run longer. So for the coming calendar year my word is Surrender. Every day. Every plan. Every idea. Every moment. My humble prayer is for the Good Shepherd to keep revealing how He is ahead of my Surrender. He’s won every battle and will be faithful to speak sweet Victory as Surrender increases it’s activity through the life of my Trotter Tribe.

Where is God asking you to trust Him more and surrender?

Shaka 🤙🏼 the World

Hello, from Kanakuk K-Kauai family Kamp!

This week my Trotter tribe is putting the cherry on top of our summer at one of our favorite places on the globe. We are spending the week with each other and dear friends from all over the country learning more about each other and the God who loves us. Coming to Kanakuk {a Christian athletic camp in Branson, MO} each summer is like coming Home for my Tribe.

This year the theme is”Shaka the World” and our prayer as a family is that it would be more than a theme, more than just a fun week to dress up in silly costumes to party hard and play hard. Our prayer as a tribe is that 1 John 4:4 would become something we truly believe and live out, that because God has overcome the world – we can overcome anything we might face. Because what is Alive and at work in us is much greater than what is at work in this world to discourage, destroy or defeat.

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

-‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:4‬‬

I know we have one more video for our Becoming Book Club {Chapters 11 & 12} and that will post NEXT Monday.

Have a great week!!

 

 

Let’s Chat Chapters 9 & 10 | Becoming Book Club

Chapters 9 and 10 Discussion from Cari Trotter on Vimeo.

Hey guys!

Welcoming you into chapters 9 and 10 of our little book club….to be honest, this week’s video is worth the watch just to hear me stumble through pronouncing “Macedonia” {ha!}. We have tons of ground to cover in “When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy”. This week we will push our spiritual lives and uncover the importance of our prayer life. Prayer is a great heart revealer. Prayer should be our continually moving river of communication with God. 

“Prayer is the human expression of treasuring and trusting the Spirit of God.” {pg 148}

I talk in our video this week how I am not necessarily discussing the value of our surface prayers of protection and provision. This week John Piper is opening our spiritual intellect to consider the importance of deep, consistent prayer and meditation. Like, I’m talkin’ praying down the Hound of Heaven on your behalf kinda praying. This aspect of our spiritual life couldn’t be more important…..prayer is our open dialogue with the Creator of the Universe.

“If we are going to be fruit-bearing people, and not wither under the pressures of idle, fainthearted, weak, and hurtful people, then we must fight, as 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says, to “rejoice always” or to “delight…in the word of the Lord….day and night” {Ps. 1:2}. And to do that, as verse 17 says, we need to “pray without ceasing.” {pg 157}

Love how Piper goes on to breakdown three ideas on what exactly praying without ceasing means. {all listed on page 157}

  1. Praying without ceasing means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do. This is the very spirit and essence of prayer. 
  2. Praying without ceasing means praying repeatedly and often.
  3. Praying without ceasing means not giving up on prayer. Don’t ever come to a point in your life where you cease to pray at all times. 

“Lean on God all the time for the miracle of joy in your life. Never give up looking to him for help. Come to him repeatedly during the day and often. Make your default mental state a Godward longing for all that you need, especially for spiritual desires.” {pg 157}

Discussion Questions and Journal Prompts for the week:

  1. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 
  2. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
  3. If prayer is ultimately “an offering up of our desires unto God” and a heart revealer…..have you spent time giving over your desires to God? Have you pushed past superficial desires to identify what you REALLY need to see God do in and through your life/circumstances? Spend time doing just that today. Take a risk and trust God with your desires. 
  4. Have you been pleading for some time and not seen answers? Do you feel the threat in your flesh to give up praying? Don’t give up, friend! Take a big risk today….keep praying. Allow God the chance to reveal something fresh to your heart. By faith speak His Word and Promises back to Him. He will unlock new perspectives, and when He does write them down. 

“Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” {Habakkuk 2:2-3}

Chapter 7 and 8 video is UP! | Becoming Book Club

Chapters 7 and 8 Discussion from Cari Trotter on Vimeo.

Here is the chapter 7 and 8 discussion video FINALLY! Thank you for your patience!

Seeing the Measure of our Mighty Weapon | Chapter 7 | Becoming Book Club

Good Morning, all!

First, I must ask for your grace. The video for our chapters today is not uploading properly {insert my “ugh” face} and taking some time to fix. Deep breath. Instead of delaying our post for today I opted to post our written portion and then follow up with the video once it loads properly. Technology is a two sided coin, ya’ll – it’s a fantastic blessing one minute and then the next minute it can make you want to pull your hair out at the roots.

Grace upon Grace for all as this Monday morning heats up. 🙂

This week the chapters nail down how the Word of God authorizes and releases authentic and lasting freedom and joy in our lives. I loved the subtitle for Chapter 7 – Seeing the Measure of our Mighty Weapon.

“Christianity is not a settle-in-and-live-at-peace-with-this-world-the-way-it-is kind of religion. When Jesus said, “the truth will set you free” {John 8:32}, he didn’t mean without a battle. He meant that truth would win the war of liberation in the soul. Christianity is war. It is declaration of all-out combat against our own sinful impulses. The apostle Peter said, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” {1 Peter 2:11}. To become a Christian is to wake up to the reality that our soul – the eternal joy of our soul – is at stake. Therefore Christianity is mortal combat for true and lasting joy.” {page 103, When I Don’t Desire God}

My hope when you read chapter 7 specifically is that it would wake up the worth of being committed to knowing and loving God’s Word. With our video not loading just yet I decided to spend a heavy amount of time on Chapter 7 in this post and then plan to post more on Chapter 8 tomorrow. These last four chapters are some heavy hitters so taking time to work through them is important. At least I know for me I need a little more time!

I spend so many of the hours in my life speaking, preaching, writing, posting, filling journal spaces with, chatting about and developing content over this most important fruit of the Christian life – knowing and loving God’s Word. Not because I have this aspect of the Christian life nailed, but on the contrary I am so easily lured away from the refreshing nature of it’s Spring. My mental energies allow circumstances to cloud my perspectives at times and the Living Word of God is the only tool having the capability to slice through the delusions and adjust my heart navigation.  Without the Word of God at the helm to bring me back to life each day I would fall to the darkness of discouragement and sin no matter how “good” I think I am. My flesh is too strong, the enemy is too sly and the world is too distracting….we MUST develop the delight and desire for God’s Word above all other things to refresh, refuel and refocus our hearts. 

“A thousand interesting things compete for our attention to the Word of God. I confess that after fifty years of loving and reading and memorizing Scripture, I can be lured away from appointed times in the Word by something as insignificant as a new computer device. The illusory pleasure of newness can temporarily trump the far superior benefits of keeping my appointment with the Word of God. This is evidence in me of what Paul calls indwelling sin {Romans 7:17, 20, 23}. It is part of the remaining corruption lingering after the death of the old self {Romans 6:6}. I am not proud of it. It grieves me. At times it frightens me. It is part of the reason I speak so much of the fight for joy. I know this sinful inclination must be fought to the death. It is this fight Paul has in mind when he says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” {Colossians 3:5}. We will speak shortly about how the Word helps us do that. But first we must fight just to keep our appointments with the Word.” {Piper, page 96 & 97}

I would love to think the only distraction from me making and keeping my appointments with the Word of God has to do with the newness of fun toys like technology or an adventurous trip or a new home…..but the reality for me is I am distracted by far lesser things producing a much greater domination in my heart. I can be distracted and tempted to walk out the door to life without a filling of God’s Word based on the quickness of my schedule, the expectations I want to meet with friends, the demands of maintaining a clean home, the allure that “I’ve got this”…..ALL of those nuances about my flesh to pull me away from God’s Word are danger zones and my life, my relationships and my sanity would ALL benefit from the time I commit to spending mediating on God’s Word.

I’m a real woman though. I am not John Piper. I am a coach’s wife. I am a mom to three kids. I am a sister, friend, taxi cab, chef, cheerleader, etc…you get the idea, right? Fill in the blanks for all the real life roles you play. We are real flesh and blood people and I can’t just stop the entire flow of my life, sit in a candle lit room and read scripture all day. Not my calling. However, what I DO feel God inviting me and ultimately inviting you into is this sacred dance of making His Word a constant flowing river in my life.

My Bible is always with me. I am constantly and intentionally making appointments for coffee with individuals who make God’s Word a priority. Scripture is up in my house where we can all see it at any given moment. If I missed my quiet time in the morning because life happens and I was up all night with a sick kiddo I simply work it in another time throughout the day. Don’t make this legalistic either, view time in God’s Word as the ultimate gift of love, grace and compassion you allow yourself to indulge in.

The point is we want to have this fixed thought every day – {ya’ll, this is literally what I repeat to myself on hard flesh-filled days}…Cari, “Come hell or high water I am getting my heart before the Word of God and allowing it’s truth to love me, lead me and take my hand to Jesus.”

Discussion question and journal focus for today:

  1. Piper lays out 10 benefits to the worth of Scripture. {page 97-113} Which do you connect most with? Why does it motivate you to keep pursuing God through His Word?

Low and Slow…a few quotes to ponder | Becoming Book Club

How ya doing, my friends?

This week we slowed down a bit to review some of the chapters we have been blowing through in our Becoming Book Club. It’s good to allow deep content to marinate in our souls, and holla’ at ya girl because Piper is FULL of deep content. I feel we often over stimulate our souls with such speedy exposure in this day in age we come to the point of numbing. Nothing could penetrate our racing heart if it wanted to because we refuse to slow down enough to think through how we really do feel about what we are reading or absorbing. I want this book to be different. I want us to be intersected in a way we didn’t anticipate and blown away by the glory and grace of obtaining the Real Joy of God. 

As promised, I’ve pulled out my favorite quotes from the chapters we have read so far in John Piper’s book “When I Don’t Desire God”….

Chapter One:

“This will happen when Christians don’t just say that Christ is valuable, or sing that Christ is valuable, but truly experience in their hearts the unsurpassed worth of Jesus with so much joy that they can say, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” {Phil 3:8}…..And this joy will hold us and keep us, if we have tasted it and fought to make it the supreme experience of our lives. Christ is supremely glorious and supremely valuable. Therefore he is worth the fight.” {page 21}

Chapter Two:

“Mere thoughts and mere deeds are manageable by the carnal religious mind. But the emotions – they are the weathercock of the heart. Nothing shows the direction of the deep winds of the soul like the demand for radical, sin-destroying, Christ-exalting joy in God. But having made my defense, I say again: God and God alone is the final, ultimate goal of our quest. All that God is for us in Jesus is the Object of our quest for joy. When I speak of fighting for joy, I mean joy in God, not joy without reference to God. When I speak of longing for happiness, I mean happiness in all that God is for us in Jesus, not happiness as physical or psychological experience apart from God. Whether we are desiring or delighting, the end of the experience is God.” {page 31}

Chapter Three:

`”The life of joy in God is not a burdened life. It is an unburdened life. The fight for joy is the struggle to trust God with the burdens of life. It’s a fight for freedom from worry. It’s a fight for hope and peace and joy, which are all threatened by unbelief and doubt about God’s promises. And since freedom and hope and peace and joy are good, the fight to preserve them is a good fight.” {page 38}

Chapter Four:

“Therefore, believing that joy in God is a gift from God is essential in our calling to live for the glory of God. It shapes all our other strategies. It makes them humble. It makes them into acts of faith. In everything we do in our quest for joy we are praying and trusting the grace of God for a gift. May this truth liberate the despairing soul and humble the proud.” {page 55}

Chapter Five:

“Make and trust a blind idol, and you become blind. Apply that principle to the modern world and think of idols of our own day. What do we make and what do we trust? Things. Toys. Technology. And so our hearts and our affections are like toys. The result is that we are easily moved and excited by things, computers, cars, appliances, entertainment media. They seem to fit the shapes in our hearts. They feel good in the tiny spaces they have made. But in this readiness to receive pleasure from things, we are ill-shaped for Christ. He seems unreal, unattractive. The eyes of our hearts grow dull…….Without the work of our omnipotent internal Eye Surgeon we would remain blind and unable to see. Oh, how we need the gift of spiritual sight! Whatever joy we have without this sight would not be spiritual joy. It would not be a spontaneous response to seeing the beauty of Christ. And therefore it would not honor Christ. It would be superficial and fleeting.” {page 68}

Chapter Six:

“We never outgrow the gospel.” {page 91}

What were some of your favorite quotes from the chapters?

Half-time in our Becoming Book Club – Let’s review!

It’s half-time, friends! Yes, I’m a coach’s wife so basically everything in my life can take on a form of athletic terminology. This week is PERFECT to make a half-time call and review all the information we have been absorbing from this phenomenal book.  We’ve covered some serious ground, girls! Matter of fact I am inclined to think we have read so fast our spiritual brains could be tempted to explode. I woke up today wanting us to slow down a bit and allow all this goodness to really have the time to marinate in our souls.

Let’s do a chapter video review! The books and spiritual stakes I have remembered the most in my life have come when I have actually allowed myself the space to REALLY know the material. Not just breeze past it like a spiritual whirling dervish. 🙂

I want to challenge ya’ll to go back through each video with spiritual intention to absorb all the aims and goals so far.

Click each chapter to hop back over to the video post :

Introduction

Chapter 1/2

Chapter 3/4

Chapter 5/6

As I was doing this myself, I also cataloged all my favorite quotes/scriptures from each Chapter and I will load those up the rest of the week as we settle into our half-time review.

I am fairly certain the quote I have found myself repeating into my reality most and praying my heart is building a habit of exercising is from Chapter 2…

“Whether we are desiring or delighting, the end of the experience is God.” {page 31}

What has spoken to you MOST out of the first 6 chapters? 

The Fight for Joy is a Fight to See | Let’s chat about Chapters 5 & 6 | Becoming Book Club

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” {Psalm 34:8}

The fight for Real Joy is a fight to SEE our realities with God’s perspective.

My challenge for us this week is so simple…..ask God to SEE. To really SEE what He sees, so we want what He wants. Piper talks in these chapters about wanting the wrong things in the wrong way and then sometimes we want the right things in the wrong way…or at the very least I feel that I experience time and time again wanting the right things in the wrong time-frame.

We need God’s sight to truly experience God’s glory and know His heart. On page 58 Piper gives a pretty hardy challenge to us regarding the need for spiritual sight.

“In other words, the heart and its eyes are failing in their appointed task. In the book of Revelation, Jesus saw this happening in the church of Laodicea, who thought they needed nothing. He said to them, “You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.” And he counseled them, “Buy from me….salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” {3:17-18}

This divine “salve” must be what Paul was praying for in Ephesians 1:18 when he asked the Lord that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and inheritance and power. Without this work of our omnipotent internal Eye Surgeon we would remain blind and unable to see. Oh, how we need the gift of spiritual sight! Whatever joy we have without this sight would not be spiritual joy. It would not be spontaneous response to seeing the beauty of Christ. And therefore it would not honor Christ. It would be superficial and fleeting.”

Discussion questions and journal prompts for this week….

  1. The only way we will have spiritual sight is by asking God for it with a surrendered heart. Maintaining our spiritual sight involves a daily habit of confessing sin, admitting our need for Jesus and asking for revelation to His movement each day. I am asking us to put a pause on life long enough to truly ask to SEE with spiritual eyes today. To see our families with spiritual lenses. To see our friendships through spiritual lenses. To see our parenting through spiritual lenses. List out all the areas you need to see God REVEAL Himself, and ask for the sight to see Him moving. 
  2. Read and write out Ephesians 1:17-23 and Philippians 3:12-16

“Together this spiritual seeing of Christ and enjoying him – or this spiritual sense of his beauty and corresponding pleasure in the soul – refer to what Paul calls “knowing” Christ. Paul prays in Ephesians 3:19 that we may ‘know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.’ And he says in Philippians 3:8, ‘I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ This knowing is no mere intellectual knowledge. The devils have such knowledge and tremble {Jas 2:19}. This knowing ‘surpasses knowledge.’ This knowing includes tasting and seeing. It is the knowledge of honey that you have only when you put it on your tongue and taste that it is sweet. Therefore, knowing Christ in this way means seeing him for who he really is and enjoying him above all things. Therefore the prophetic challenge, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” {Hos 6:3} is the same as the challenge of this book; Let us fight to SEE; let us press on in the fight to see and enjoy the glory of Christ.” {page 69, When I Don’t Desire God}