Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's been a while since I've written a post on here.

It's a been a while since I've opened my Bible.

It's been a while since I've woken up in the morning and done nothing else before praising God.

And I know exactly why this is.

I've lost my spiritual discipline and done very little to get it back.

One of my prayers for a long time was, "Lord, please give me another Stars and Scars." S+S was a music magazine/concert promotion company I started when I was 16 and ran until I was almost 24. It was my life, quite literally. S+S lead me toward a Music Industry degree; internships and jobs at music venues, record companies, tv and radio; interviewing my favorite bands backstage and on tour buses; and organizing some of the most fun concerts that Middletown and Keansburg have ever seen.

I lived the dream for 8 years, and I did it as my own boss. Autonomy was challenging and beautiful. Not very lucrative, but that didn't matter! I was happy.

Since I closed Stars and Scars, I hadn't experienced "that feeling" again - the rush, the joy, the anticipation, the (if I'm being honest) obsession.

Until now.

Photography is what I think about day in and day out. Outside of my job at The Salvation Army, I'm my own boss again. Any free minute I have is spent watching tutorials, booking shoots, browsing for inspiration, editing sessions, reading articles...

God answered my prayer at His own expense. He's become #2.

How does one balance developing a God-given, heart-bursting passion with continuing to cultivate an undistracted relationship with Him?

I need to recalibrate.

I need to wake up and tap my Bible app before checking anything else. I need to sing songs of praise to Him. I need to pause and pray throughout each day. I need to make uninterrupted time to be in the Word. I need to not be a crazy person and fill every available moment with a photo shoot because I love it so much. I need to love Him more. I need to love Him well. I need to be more in touch with my friends and family and their needs. I need to stop making excuses for not going to church. I need to close my computer and put down my phone by a certain time every night, no matter how much I want to look at just one more thing. I need to be with Him before I go to sleep.

I need people who will hold me accountable for all of these things.

Stars and Scars was my #1, and He still blessed me, even though I wasn't walking with Him. Photography has become my #1, and He's still blessing me, even though I'm running ahead of Him.

God's goodness is overwhelming and unwarranted. I pray He helps me to recalibrate, to celebrate discipline, to find my rush, joy, anticipation and obsession in His love, first and always.

Monday, February 24, 2014

What do Aretha Franklin and Paramore have in common? Both perform songs that share the title of this post, and their lyrics resonate with me so much lately that I have to write about them. 

He's the kind of guy that would say 
Hey, baby, let's get away
Let's go some place, huh?
Well, I don't care
He's the kind of guy that you give your everything
You trust your heart, share all of your love
'Til death do you part


Yeah. I'd like that guy! If I find myself daydreaming, it's often about my future husband and the things we'll do together...even though I don't know who he is. Kinda weird to think happy thoughts about a faceless person (though I have my preferences - he almost always has horn-rimmed glasses and short, sometimes tousled, sometimes slicked back, dark hair). I entertain the ideas of day trips and weekend photo extravaganzas that I want to take, just not alone. It would be so wonderful to have an adventure partner. Someone who can balance out my "have to plan everything down to the smallest detail" self with spontaneous fun.

Living in a city of sleepless people
Who all know the limits and won't go too far outside the lines
Cause they're out of their minds

I wanna get out and build my own home
On a street where reality is not much different from dreams I've had
A dream is all I have


I dream of a not so far away place, where nature's majesty stretches out further than the eye can see. My own home is small, cozy and warm. Outside the lines and off the grid. Every day brings a promise of joy and excitement. We could walk, we could drive. It wouldn't matter. It would all be beautiful.

I just started crying after typing those last lines.

Maybe because they're so real in my heart and mind, but I can't touch them right now. I can't run through the fields and jump in the lake. I can't hold his hand.

My daydream, either parts of it or the whole sum, is being lived out by others, two in particular I can think of (one I know personally, one I don't). I want what they have. I admit it. I don't want to covet. It's just really hard.

I feel silly praying to God about my daydreamy desires. Are they unattainable? Are they not what He has for me? What if the life (and/or the man) I've dreamt up doesn't even compare to His plan? I suppose only time will tell. For now...

I'm gonna go
Where the rest of the dreamers go


Daydreaming
And I'm thinking of you

Monday, February 10, 2014

I recently heard the Holy Spirit ask me, “Are you being faithful with what I’ve given you?”

This question, paired with a lot of tears, made me realize that God built a life for me in North Jersey, and I want to run from it. I want to be back home on the Jersey Shore, enjoying places and people I love, especially Shore Vineyard Church. My heart has been tied to SV since I first walked in about three years ago. I believe the church’s vision is spot on with Christ’s, and they walk it out so well.


Just the thought of membership at Shore Vineyard not being God’s will for me pierces my soul. It doesn’t make sense.


I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence more at SV than anywhere else (I literally felt His physical touch once!). I’ve grown as a child of God simply by being around the church. I’ve seen transformation in others and in myself. I’ve taken classes, attended retreats, cried on shoulders, supported missions and furiously scribbled notes on many a Sunday morning. Who I am today is largely due to the Spirit moving in SV. I’ve been amazed by the plethora of opportunities offered including Bible studies, food pantry, recovery group, Shore House of Prayer, youth group, classes, ladies and men’s ministries, outreach, fundraising, special events…There’s something to do every day, and I’m the kind of person who loves that!


My current schedule:


Mondays – Resting Place House of Prayer

Tuesdays – Volunteering at after-school program
Wednesdays – Ladies Bible study
Thursday – Volunteering at animal shelter
Weekends – Photo shoots, other events/fun stuff

The wonderful activities I’m involved in outside of work bring me much joy. They’re just all separate, not tied to one family, lacking a common thread.


If I was still at Shore Vineyard, my schedule might be:


Mondays – Sozo ladies Bible study

Tuesdays – Shore House of Prayer
Wednesdays – Groundswell youth group
Thursdays – SV connected ministry/class
Weekends – Photo shoots, Financial Peace, Drama Team, volunteering at kids church

I love community. I love what it means and being a part of it. While I am very grateful for the opportunities I have right now, I do feel a little wayward because I don’t have one family. Shore Vineyard will always be my family (not to mention my dad/stepmom actually go there!).


I started attending Hillsong Montclair, but I’m not sure if it’s the right church for me. Many of the activities are in NYC, which I successfully avoid at least 10 months out of the year, making connecting rather difficult.


I would like to find a church that I can throw my entire being into. I had one. He doesn’t want me there. Why??


I haven’t received a clear answer. He’s not obligated to give me one. I’m called to follow His lead whether or not it makes sense. But in the process, my heart hurts, and I know Jesus doesn’t want my heart to hurt.


What do you think? Has God facilitated changes in your life that don’t make sense? How did you deal with them, whether or not clarity eventually came?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I've had this post stirring in my head for about a week, and it was a sermon that solidified I should write it. You know the feeling you get, the rattle in your bones, the racing of your blood when you do something you absolutely love? For me, that experience comes when I'm spending time with youth and now, when I'm taking photos.

I've always loved photography. I retreated to the darkroom in college like I needed its solace just to survive. But for whatever reason, I abandoned it after graduating, save for the occasional smartphone capture.

We've had a Nikon D3200 at work for a year. Even as I got fired up to take photos at our camp over the summer, I never thought of reigniting my passion outside the office...Until November.

As the camera sat in its designated spot on my desk and collected dust, I decided to
start learning how to really use it again. All of my work photos were taken on Auto. I wanted to challenge myself to only shoot in Manual mode, so I would learn by my favorite device - trial and error.

I started a Pinterest account to keep track of helpful links, downloaded some "cheat cards" with suggested settings (which I actually have yet to reference!) and began shooting away. The spark I used to have in the darkroom returned immediately, even without using film, which I hope to in the future!

Now, as a photographer, I see things differently. Just like as a Christian, I see things differently than the way I had for 25 years. I sense God everywhere. I notice beauty everywhere. His grace is given to us at all times, and still, I want to capture a moment of it to remind myself, to remind us all, that He's present and visible.

The sermon referenced above included four relevant "D" words:

Deposit
Dig
Develop
Destiny

God deposited the gift of photography in me a long time ago, and even after reveling in it, I let it fade. But because His gift is crafted deep within me, it didn't actually disappear!

I just had to start digging to find it again. And I didn't even have to dig very far! All of two feet away from me where the Nikon sits. Then, it was my job (and will continue to be my job) to develop my gift. Just because God gave me the passion, it doesn't mean I'm an expert! I'm enrolling in photography courses both online and in the classroom. I've started to book sessions with models and friends (who are just as gorgeous as models, by the way!). I now follow advanced photographers for inspiration and mentoring.

All of these pieces and the trajectory they're on ultimately lead to...You guessed it: Destiny.

Several weeks ago, I had a meeting with Pastor Brett Conover of Shore Vineyard Church and his wife Maria. During our chat, Maria gave me a prophetic word. She described a hand coming down from above and picking me up. While suspended in the air, my feet were running wild, desperate to be on the move. As the hand placed me on a runway, I took off and became a plane with three A's on my tail wing. Maria asked God what the letters meant, and He answered, "Arise Anointed Art." She said I was flying into enemy territory with the utmost confidence in my artillery.

I've carried that prophecy with me since, praying it translates to photographic ministry. I can see myself taking photos for nonprofits, encouraging others to get involved in their missions. In fact, I'm already doing that! Both at work and now as a volunteer for Jersey Animal Coalition. Perhaps the Holy Spirit will fly this plane to other states or countries in the future.

My challenge now, after digging and starting to develop, is to not let God's gift overshadow God Himself. I've always been one to dive in headfirst (like when I started a company with an eight year run at age 16!) and invest countless, often sleepless, hours into my passion, to the neglect of other important matters. Truthfully, I've seen myself going this way a bit lately, as I scour Instagram and experiment with Photoshop during the times I would normally read or listen to a sermon. I'm fighting to not let my destiny slip away again and also to stay connected to the One who blesses it. This involves strategizing a plan of attack, an air raid of prayer, worship and study, all of which are bringing victory to my life!

Jesus is bigger and greater and more compassionate that I've ever known Him to be, now that I'm connecting with His creative calling for me. What do the four D's look like in your life? How has God anointed you, and how is He asking you to arise?

*Follow my photo adventures!
Website - http://www.elysejankowski.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/elysejankowskiphoto 
Instagram - http://www.instagram.com/elysejankowskiphoto
Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/elysejankowski

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A few weeks ago, I had a random idea for a BWB retreat - a long weekend during which I would only consume Bread and Water and only read the Bible. Having yesterday off from work (and it appropriately being January 1), I decided to start with a BWB day rather than weekend. No phone, internet, tv, music, nuffin'. Just me and big G in my apartment!

In retrospect, I could have fasted entirely, but four slices of bread and two bottles of water left me pretty weak/tired...To the point that I nodded off twice! I figured I better get my blood flowing somehow for a burst of energy after sitting in my chair reading/praying for hours. So, I cleaned the apartment and hummed worship songs, which gave me some steam to last until about 8:30pm (I didn't turn my phone on all day and don't have a clock/watch in my apartment, so it was fun to guess the time by the sun's setting).

I ended up reading five full books of the Bible (Philippians, 1 Corinthians, Revelation, John and Song of Songs) and half of Acts using The Quest, my dad's study Bible, so I'd get some extra trinkets along the way. I also prayed so many prayers (for missionaries, governments, revival, church, family, friends, myself, anything/anyone that came to mind) that I hadn't dedicated significant time to really praying for before.

I had hoped for some grand revelation to come during BWB, perhaps even hearing God's audible voice! Interestingly enough, a revelation didn't come until the last five minutes of the day as I was praying before bed. To protect privacy of others, I won't share it on here, though I feel like it was especially for me, and for that, I'm grateful. Other "wake up" moments came while I was reading the Bible and not so much while I was in prayer (Oh, how I long to hear Him during prayer!). Here are the verses I marked:


Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The first verses that made me stop and think, specifically, "How do I value others above myself?" Natural response: I don't! Supernatural response: I will. Looking to the interests of others, be they people I know or don't know, needs to be at the top of my priority list. As a self-professed hermit, I really enjoy "me time" (and my counselor says I'm an extrovert!). How can I cultivate "you time"? Interested to see how God stretches me in this way in 2014.


Philippians 2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing

I'm getting better about not arguing, but I could definitely stand to improve in the area of grumbling! Complaining is easy. Injustice is everywhere. If I must complain, I should do so to God. He can take it and refine me in the process. I only want to speak positive words. My prayer is Psalm 141:3 - Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!


Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Life verses, for real! If I could truly internalize all that Paul says here, I'd be good to go, every day! Lord, please impress these words on my heart. May I rejoice in your peace, pray in thanksgiving and set my mind on heavenly things daily.


1 Corinthians 2:3-4 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,

I want 2014 to be the year of evangelism. I've been wanting to step out in faith for months now and just haven't done it, even with the books I've been reading giving me tools and encouragement. These verses were especially encouraging, knowing that even Paul himself had some fear of man! But when the Spirit moves in power, all fear ceases. Please pray that I would receive boldness!


1 Corinthians 10:24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

This verse goes with Philippians 2:3-4. How can I practically seek the good of others daily?


1 Corinthians 14:3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.

I thought prophesying basically meant telling someone their future, but now that I know it's primarily to speak encouragement (about future, present, whathaveyou), I have a bit more confidence that I may be able to prophesy to someone someday! Maybe I already have without knowing it...


1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

I just wondered what Paul meant by the second line. Think of evil like infants do, because they don't know evil? Respond like infants do, in an innocent way? Of course, I understand the "think like adults" part, but what connection do you think he's making regarding evil and infants?


John 9:6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.

The study Bible notes on this verse said that Jesus was demonstrating His "ability to use whatever is available to accomplish the impossible." I just really liked that! We may wonder why in the world He'd spit in mud rather than just speak immediate healing as He did to others. He's showing He can use something we might deem worthless (ourselves perhaps?) or not important for the task at hand (eg. mud) to perform miracles. What might that look like in your life?


John 12:25-26 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

I've been thinking a lot about the unsaved lately and why some of my family members and friends haven't "come around," as it were. Believers have been chosen by God to believe. We will be honored by Him on Judgement Day. Why haven't others been chosen? Does He not want to honor them? The study Bible notes next to these verses said that in regards to free will, we are all first given the choice to follow Jesus. If we decide not to, God then hardens our hearts, so we are unable to believe. Unwillingness leads to inability. But I had a hardened heart, and my inability was broken off. Will my family members/friends become able to believe?

Going even deeper (and relating to evangelism), I liked that the study Bible pointed out the difference between assurance and understanding. If we know and believe in Truth, we have blessed assurance. That does not mean we have to understand all of God's ways.


Acts 3:6-8 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.

More study Bible wisdom in the margins! The notes said that faith comes first, then healing. Ah ha! Interesting, because as I prepare to step out in evangelism, of course I want to see people that I pray for get healed. But if they are not receptive to God's power, if they do not have faith that He can actually heal them, we probably won't see results. However, I also believe God heals to encourage faith. So, do the evangelized need softened hearts before the evangelizer prays in order to reap blessings? Perhaps...All the more reason to pray before even walking out the door!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I finished reading Do What Jesus Did about a month ago and got lazy in posting about it because I had so much to type up! This book is my field guide to life. It's my future with my husband. It's my daily walking out in faith. I strongly desire to move towards Kingdom-mindedness and truly believing and living everything Robbie says. He visited my church last month, and I was astounded by his stories (I think you would be, too!). Why are we allowing ourselves to miss out on so much of what God has?

How appropriate that a new year is about to begin. Lord, let's do this!


We are not disqualified by our doubts.

...no cookie cutter mold exists for whom God wants to use or what He is able to do through us if we are willing.

What God told Moses in their encounter is still true today. When we come into proximity of God and seek His face, parts of us must fall to the side and die. Those parts cannot be near God and live. Faced with His glory, our pride dies, our arrogance dies, our will dies.

When I pray for people, first and foremost, I ask, "Lord, let your presence come." I have learned to wait on this presence - to give it room - and to expect that His presence will move mountains of hopelessness, discouragement, anger and unbelief in people's lives.

We already were godlike, made in God's image and gifted with authority, yet we fell for the trick of becoming something we already were.

In going out to minister to people by doing the things Jesus did, always remember that if you don't feel as though you're getting through, or if you feel that other approaches are failing, look people right in the eyes with the message that Jesus loves them. It seems so simple, but it's extremely powerful.

He is able to speak to us. We're His children; we were designed for communication and intimacy with Him. He has given us His Word. I often remind people, "Hey, if you get stuck when you're ministering to someone, you already know the message."

Atheists have a god they worship called their intellect, and if you'll just tip your hat to it a little, they'll often open up more to you. So I said, "You know, I can see that you're really, really smart - way smarter than I am. I probably couldn't answer all your arguments. But sir, I'm just a simple man, and if you would be so kind as to let me, I would still like to pray for you and bless you."

We think we are punished until we repent, but in another upside-down twist, we are actually lavished with love until we turn back toward God. When we claim Him as our Father, it's then that God disciplines us in love, never in anger. He creates protection around our lives because He loves us. He brings order so that we can flourish in freedom and peace. He knows our hurts, and He is slow to anger and quick to show mercy. He is always in favor of our advancement, teaching and growth. In every portrait of Old Testament judgment, God wept over every judgment and then restored and blessed those whom He "rejected."

The treasure is in the risk. We are willing to die for Jesus, but are we willing to look foolish for Him?

God isn't always going to grab us by the collar and make us pray for someone or tell someone something for Him. He wants us to desire to step into Kingdom work.

"God says, 'You go, and I'll show.'" -John Wimber

When Jesus faced the hungry crowds, He turned to his disciples and said, "You feed them." He was training them to step out in obedience, to step out in risk taking. And as they stepped out, God provided.

For me, it's often the case that I sense God wants to speak, but I have no clue what He wants to say until I begin speaking.

One of the biggest reasons we fail to step into Jesus' transferable ministry is that we mistakenly believe we have to be the source for God's miracles. That thinking not only scares most of us away from praying for others in faith, but it's also bad theory and bad theology. The healing and all the other stuff is God's part to do. I'm just supposed to go. I'm just supposed to show up and respond to what He says to do. I succeed because I've obeyed.

We have a tendency to say, "God, if you anoint me, I'll go." God says, "If you'll go, I'll anoint you."

Good questions to ask when you read Scripture or pray for a person are, "Lord, how do You want to encourage this person? How do You see this person? What do You like about this person?"

When you pray for people you don't know, it's good to remember that the concept of being prayed for can take some people by surprise or even totally disorient them. Most times I say something reassuring like, "God's here, and He wants to bless you. I'm going to pray, and you'll feel His presence come on you so that you can experience Him. He'll also give me words of encouragement for you."

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). There's no sickness in heaven, no brokenness, no shame. Wherever Jesus went proclaiming the Kingdom of heaven, people were healed. When we pray for the sick to be healed, we're agreeing with heaven.

Then I told him, "What God just did with your leg, He wants to do for your life. He wants to bring peace, healing and restoration in all the hurt, wounded, uneven parts of your life."

Over and over again throughout the prophets, the parables and the apostles' preaching, we see that God's heart is for us to know that we're sons and daughters who have been given free access to the rich and full inheritance of Christ. My belief is that one of the primary battles Satan wages is his attempt to keep us from a full revelation of that. Called the Accuser, he works to keep us in poverty when it comes to knowing God's love and walking in the authority God have given us, Satan wants us to keep our prayers in survival mode, focused on begging God for small withdrawals to cover our basic sustenance. He doesn't want us to realize we've been entrusted with the Kingdom itself.

We really do have more authority than we realize. And more authority than we are currently using.

"To understand what you have you actually have to use it. And if you want more you have to give away what you've already been given." - John Wimber

Authority in the world is fear based. Authority in God is love.

Do you really believe the Spirit of the resurrected Christ lives inside you, or not?

Why should we expect anything less than incredible?

What if you really knew that your only job was to love and receive love from God?

The missing ingredient isn't God; He's done His part. The missing ingredient is us. As I said earlier, when we walk into a situation as carriers of his presence and authority, God is there because we are there. He shows up because we've shown up and He's in us - Christ in us, the hope of the world. This doesn't mean that we never doubt, but where we let our actions exceed our doubts, that's faith. Since God says to abide in Him and He'll abide in us, should we expect anything less than the authority to route demons, raise the dead, heal the sick or for that matter, stop traffic in Times Square?

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the covercoming of it." - Helen Keller

We live in a world of sin and suffering, and it disturbs us. It breaks our hearts. Yet if God got rid of sin in the world, non of us would be left in it. Instead, He chose to rebuild from within.

When we don't recognize His love, we remain stuck in a slavery mentality and obstinately become not only the greatest hazard to ourselves, but the greatest obstacle to the good that God intends.

Once I tasted this and saw it, and once I understood the Kingdom message - that such exchanges are not the icing on the cake, but that the blind seeing and the lame walking are literally and figuratively the meat and message of the Kingdom - I realized there was so much more I had to have. This was the place I had to live in...If you don't get that, you won't get the Kingdom.

For some of us, the breakthrough revelation is that God loves others so much that He's even willing to use us to reach them.

Listen, learn, grow, take risks. It's fun. There is incredible pleasure in seeing God work and in collaborating with the Holy Spirit in every day life. We serve the one true God, and stepping out to do Kingdom things is like having a front row seat.

If you have had thoughts like, I'm too broken; I'm too sick; I haven't been healed myself; I have issues, then you're missing the point. Using wounded healers is how God strikes back.

Unbelief and doubt are not the same. Doubt doesn't separate us from the love of God. It doesn't keep us from doing the things Jesus did.

That's why the Christian life is a life of faith. In the Vineyard, we say that faith is spelled R-I-S-K. If you want to lose weight, you have to go through a little hunger. If you want to do the things Jesus did, you have to go through a little R-I-S-K.

The pursuit of God is always a risk. When Moses braved the thundering mountain to encounter God, he risked death. When Peter called out to Jesus on the water, it was a tremendous risk. Peter didn't ask Jesus, "Make me walk on water." He got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus, and his pursuit of Christ made the way for a miracle to happen.

As you go, He will show.

We still have a problem, though, thinking there are some things we can do and some things we can't do as Christ followers. We have no problem volunteering at soup kitchens, giving away clothes to the needy or sponsoring a child in Africa. We say, "Aw, what a Christian thing to do." Yet Christian means "little version of Christ," so actually, throwing out demons, walking on water, multiplying food for thousands, healing the sick and raising the dead should also make us say, "Aw, what a Christian thing to do." Those are the things Jesus did.

When we feel down, isn't it because we're putting our hope in ourselves?

"The meat is in the street." -John Wimber

If we're not "failing" in what we do on a regular basis, I have a hard time believing we're really going after it.

When it seems as if nothing's working, we have no idea how God is at work.

Every time we pray, something is happening, whether we can observe it immediately or not.

The question isn't, are we willing to die for Christ? The question is, are we willing to live a life of risk for Him? Being willing to fail and fail big in the arena of living out a lifestyle of risky evangelism free us from fear and sets us up to do the impossible. Are we willing to look foolish for Jesus?

So often we accommodate casual Christianity and then wonder why there's not more power in our lives. God desires that we have more power, but we short-circuit it. We hold high ideals but see few results because we have an aversion to risk, and we develop our lifestyle around this aversion. We prefer to think of Christianity as a religious philosophy rather than a top-down revolution mean to turn the powers of darkness on their heads. We're in a culture that trains us to live by feelings, emotions and our desires instead of living with real clarity. The presence of God is counter-cultural to the norms of discouragement, depression and fear that most people live with. As we press in to God, He renews our vision, our sense of freedom and our expectations. We experience joy that's almost illogical and passion that fuels our resilience in all circumstances. Keep expecting big from heaven, and keep persevering in the grit of daily life. You'd be surprised how often the two coincide.