Who’s In Your Boat? Part 2 of 2

LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST @ https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000528345473

Last week, I talked about what happens when the wrong people are in your boat or your life, using the story of Jonah. Jonah never belonged on the boat to Tarshish and his very presence put others’ lives in danger.

If you have a specific destination or goal for your life, it’s imperative that you only take along the right people. The wrong people will only cause you unnecessary problems, setbacks, and cause your route to be filled with disorder, devastation, and delays. 

“You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go those who keep weighing you down.” -Ziad K. Abdelnour

This week, we’ll discuss what kind of people you should not allow in your boat and also, what kind of people make good sailing companions. If you know me, you know I love some good alliteration, so for your reading and podcast listening pleasure, they all start with “C” (You are welcome). And they’re Biblical, too! 

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ON YOUR BOAT:

COMPLAINING PEOPLE

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (Numbers 11:1)

It is easier to complain than to do something. It’s true. Complaining about something only takes your opinion. Changing something takes action. There is a time to speak up when something needs to be corrected, but I’m talking about complaining just for the sake of it. 

I live in Wisconsin where we really have just two seasons. We have about 3 months of people complaining how hot it is and 9 months of people complaining how cold it is. We have entire websites and apps dedicated as places to complain. Have you ever noticed how many 1 star reviews places get? People often spread bad news faster than good news. 

When the Israelites were in the desert after leaving Egypt, they were set to take over the promised land but the Bible tells us that a group of complainers spread a bad report through the camp that caused the people to become fearful. As a result, they wandered the desert for 40 years.

Complaining is contagious. Why? Because misery loves company. Instead of figuring out a solution to a problem, complainers only talk about why something is the way it is. These type of people will not add value to your goals, they will only place unnecessary obstacles in your path.

COMPLACENT PEOPLE

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)

Let me start by saying I am not talking about contentment. Contentment is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. It’s being grateful for what you have. I recently watched a documentary featuring a man living independently with Down Syndrome. When asked if he wished his life was different, he responded, “I’m happy with my life right now until something better happens.” That is my definition of contentment.

But complacency is something entirely different. “A complacent person is very pleased with themselves or feels that they do not need to do anything about a situation, even though the situation may be uncertain or dangerous” (collinsdictionary.com). 

The Israelites were reminiscing about the food they had in Egypt but they forgot one thing. THEY WERE SLAVES THERE!! They were longing for the complacency they had in Egypt. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey, but they were longing for meat with a side of bondage. 

We’ve been promised an abundant life (John 10:10) but many believers have become complacent with a life far below the abundance we can receive. Complacent people often won’t challenge you to do and be better, just good enough.

CARELESS PEOPLE

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” (Proverbs 4:26)

I am a planner. I like to have an idea of what to expect for the day, week, month and year. As an aspiring writer, podcaster, ministry leader, business owner, and homeschooling parent, planning helps me to see my endeavors grow. 

One of my favorite quotes says that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Careless people will definitely keep your boat from arriving at your destination. Careless people very rarely have a vision or plan for their life. 

I was talking to someone who has a dream that to some looks insurmountable. It is a big, bold, “only God can do it” dream, and they’ve encountered some push back from people they’d hoped would encourage them. I shared this with them: People who don’t have a goal or vision for their own life often won’t add much value to yours.

CONTROVERSIAL PEOPLE

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23)

“What do you think about Christians drinking?” This is a trick question. When someone asks you this, they don’t really care what you think. They want to open the door to lay out their seven point presentation about the Troubles of Tonics. 

Some Christians love arguing about the Bible. Not defending it to unbelievers or debating it with an atheist; arguing with other Christians who despite their different beliefs on baptism will still be with them in heaven.

I steer clear of people who are intent on being argumentative because I know that it doesn’t get us anywhere. Controversial people often look for faults in others rather than seeing them through the loving eyes of God. They see the world as us and them. People who think like they do and everyone else is stupid or wrong.

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE SHOULD BE ON YOUR BOAT:

CONSECRATED

“‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 20:7)

Holiness is not a bad word. I say this a lot because it is true. I am holy. And if you are saved, you are too. My kids don’t have to do anything to prove they are my kids. They are my kids because they lived in my womb for nine months and share my DNA. But because they are my kids, I do have expectations of them. 

And yes, God has expectations for his children. The Bible calls us a peculiar people. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to be weirdos who freak people out as we chase them down with a track entitled, “Be Right or GET LEFT!!!”. But there should be something distinguishable about our lives. 

I have friends from all walks of life, but have to be very mindful of who I trust with my vision and goals. Like-minded, consecrated people will give you the encouragement you need and you can trust it because you know they’ve been with God.

CONSISTENT

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Consistency is key to reaching your goals. You need faithful, hard working people around you that will help encourage you and keep you accountable. 

COMPETENT

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16,17)

God wants his people to be well equipped and prepared to serve. I think some people never reach their full potential not because they can’t but because they don’t prepare. 

My kids are still young but I’m teaching them how to prepare for a productive life. I want them to know how to organize their life and their thoughts. I want to show them how to build their relationship with God and the importance of serving him well. 

COMPASSIONATE

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

In my opinion, compassion is one of the characteristics of Christ I’d love to see implemented more in the church. Jesus was a compassionate leader. He looked at the people around him that were hurting and he didn’t blame them or shame them; he had compassion for them. 

I’ve been very fortunate to know many kind, compassionate followers of Christ that have given me grace when I needed it. You need people in your life that will pick you up when you fall. 

My pastor used to say, “We’re a fellowship. All fellows in the same ship.” When we take inventory of who is in our boat, we can see why we’re making headway towards our destination or experiencing delay.

Keep Going

Sometimes you can’t see changes as they’re happening. I started taking a picture of this tree after every run starting in March. Good runs, bad runs: Same picture. The first picture is from March; the second from today. I didn’t notice much change in this once barren tree from day to day, but 4 months later it is full and providing shade and comfort.

I don’t always feel like I’m moving forward with my goals but one thing I know is that consistency will get me closer to them. I’m learning that I don’t have to sprint to the finish line. I can continue to move towards it at a sustainable pace.

We are becoming better each day. Each day is not perfect and it never will be. And that’s ok. But as long as we keep going, keep doing, keep loving, keep growing, we will see results!

Happy Monday!!

Who’s In Your Boat? Part 1 of 2

LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST @ https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663?i=1000528345473

There’s a familiar story in the book of Mark where Jesus and his disciples are crossing the sea of Galilee and encounter a storm. I’ve heard amazing messages about how having Jesus in your boat will help you weather any storm. I’ve heard about how having Jesus in your boat will give you a peace that will surpass your understanding.

This story definitely shows us the benefits of having the right person in your boat. But what happens when you have the wrong person or people in your boat? This is what happens to a group of sailors in the Old Testament.

The story of Jonah is probably one of the more well known Bible stories even among non-Christians. You could go into Dollar Tree today and probably find a childrens copy of it. If you aren’t familiar with it, here’s a brief summary:

  • God tells the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them to repent of their wickedness or be destroyed. (Jonah 1:1-2)
  • Jonah throws a fit (my words) and does the opposite by sailing to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3)
  • The Lord sends a storm strong enough that well trained sailors are terrified and Jonah is below deck, taking a nap. (Jonah 1:4-5)
  • The sailors start throwing cargo off the ship and wake Jonah up to tell him to pray but find out his disobedience is the reason for the storm.(Jonah 1:6-10)

And this is where we will pick up the story. When I read the Bible, I like to not only look at the narrative, but consider the point of view from other characters. As I began to read this story, I wondered what it was like for these sailors. They are just sailing to Tarshish with goods and cargo, just going about business as usual. But because of who they’ve allowed to sail with them, they encounter a major setback.

They weren’t the ones who disobeyed God (well, directly. We are told that they are pagans or people who do not follow God). They weren’t the ones who rebelled against God’s instructions. Jonah was. But because of their proximity to him, they get caught up in his consequences for his disobedience..

Have you seen this happen to anyone? Has it happened to you? Is it happening right now? Sometimes, we make choices that will cause a negative outcome in our lives. We spend more than we can afford. We waste time scrolling on social media for hours watching others live out their dreams. We overindulge in unhealthy food that causes our health to suffer. But what happens when we endanger others because of our decisions? 

At first, the sailors have no idea why this is happening to them. They try to lighten the load of the ship by throwing things off. They are praying to their gods to save them. But once they find out Jonah is the cause of their problems, they have to make a choice. Jonah tells them that the storm will stop if they throw him overboard. 

This is where I put myself in the story. 

Jonah: “I’m a Hebrew and I disobeyed the God who made the sea and the land and the entire universe.”

Me as a sailor: “That’s cool, I heard about you guys and Egypt and sticking it to the Pharaoh. But you did what!?”

Jonah: “Yeah, God told me to share his message of salvation with the people of Nineveh, but I don’t like them, so I’m doing my own thing. Sorry you got caught up in it, though. Just throw me overboard, and everything will calm down for you.”:

Me as a sailor: **Picks Jonah up, tosses him over the side of the ship and heads to Tarshish to sell my lavender bath bombs**

END SCENE 

But this is not what happened. At least not initially. The sailors do what so many people do when they’re given advice on how to turn a situation around. 

Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.” (Jonah 1:13 emphasis added)

They were told exactly what to do to cause their lives to be at ease, and they ignored it. I’ve seen people in bad relationships (both platonic and romantic) that are not benefiting them or leading to anything positive. When told it’s time to cut ties with that person, they INSTEAD try other things. They hope that bringing that person to church will help or planning a weekend getaway will help improve things when the only thing to do is politely remove them from their life.

As the sailors notice that their efforts are not improving their situation, they eventually do what they should have done in the beginning and finally get rid of the person in the boat causing the problem. Side benefit: The sailors begin to acknowledge God, offer a sacrifice to him and make vows to him, which is the Old Testament version of a “come to Jesus” moment.

Jonah never belonged on that boat and his very presence put others’ lives in danger. Next week, I’ll talk about the kind of people you should not allow in your boat and also, what kind of people make good sailing companions. 

If you have a specific destination or goal for your life, it’s imperative that you only take along the right people. The wrong people will only cause you unnecessary problems, setbacks, and cause your route to be filled with disorder, devastation, and delays.

“You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go those who keep weighing you down.” -Ziad K. Abdelnour

Consider His Care

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3,4

Most nights during the summer, I pull out my telescope and look up. In a time when it is more common to see someone hunched over, looking down at a glowing screen, I find it relaxing and necessary to take a moment to be still and watch the entertainment of the heavens.

Space is so interesting to me for so many reasons. But one reason this vast universe interests me is the that when I consider how the same God who created all of it, cares about me. He cares about my life, dreams, this blog, my podcast. He cares about everything I care about.

If you don’t know this, He cares about you, too. If you don’t know this, you are special in his sight. If you don’t know this, you are loved. The God who created the universe with a few words, is rejoicing over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Listen to my podcast, Seeking God, Loving Others at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jasmine-lozano-seeking-god-loving-others/id1562418663

Before You Get Up, Lay Down

Before I make my coffee, before I plan my day, before I check my phone, even before I get out of bed, I talk to God.

Before I get up, I lay down. Not literally. But I lay down my day before the Lord. I ask him to have his will in my life and to guide my day. I ask him to make me more like him. I ask him to strengthen me for whatever lies ahead. I ask for diligence and patience and kindness. I ask for favor.

It only takes a minute or so, but this minute helps me to ground myself and focus for the day. It helps me to recognize where my strength comes from. You don’t have to wake up at 4:30 am, light candles and spend hours on a calming morning routine. You can if you want! But I find giving God these first few minutes every day sets my day off in the right direction.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Free Indeed

It was a Monday morning, June 19, 1865. Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas with a proclamation: All enslaved people were now emancipated and free to leave the tyranny of slavery.

It is estimated that at this time, there were over 250,000 enslaved Black Americans living in Texas. This day, known as Juneteenth, has been celebrated for over 150 years, in remembrance of the end of slavery in Texas.

As a Black American, I have always found this day to be bitter sweet. For centuries, blacks were violated, treated as property, separated from their families, and forced to work and live in uninhabitable conditions. The end of slavery is definetly an occasion to celebrate. But what saddens me is that this news of emancipation came 2 years, 5 months, and 18 days after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect on January 1, 1863. 

For almost two and a half years, blacks in Texas continued in the lifestyle of slavery simply because they had no idea they had been freed. They experienced two and a half years of physical and mental mistreatment; two and a half years of families being separated; two and a half years of unlivable, unsanitary conditions. So if you see me looking a bit distraught at a Juneteenth barbeque, this is why.

I’d like to say I can’t imagine living in slavery while I was actually free, but I don’t have to imagine it; I lived it. For years, I lived in slavery. I wasn’t being beaten and forced to work without pay, but I was being held bondage by chains I didn’t even know I had. I was in bondage to my sinful nature. I was being held by chains of defeat and destruction, but the worst part was that I knew I could have freedom. I knew about the freedom that was available through Jesus but I was choosing to stay enslaved.

I don’t have any statistical data or research for this next point, but I stand by it. When a person is not experiencing freedom when it has been made available to them, I believe it’s for one of two reasons: They are not aware of their freedom or they have chosen to remain in bondage.

Unlike me, the over 250,000 enslaved blacks in Texas had no idea that the invisible chains their “owners” used to keep them in bondage had been broken with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. They had no clue they were free.

Today as we celebrate Juneteenth, I’m reminded of not only of the freedom of my ancestors but also of the freedom I have in Christ. The chains that once bound me have been broken.

Staying Consistent in Conflict

“Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally.” -Craig Groeschel

There are more quotes about consistency than I could throw a stick at but this is one of my favorites. Whether we want to write a book, lose a few pounds, or get our house in order, consistency is the key. We don’t have to overhaul everything about ourselves to become the person we want to be; we just need to consistently do the actions that will get us there.

The problem is many of us fall off the wagon the moment a wrench is thrown into our plans. Most of us would agree that the past year has definitely frustrated the plans for many of us. I found that some of my good habits suffered severely while others continued out of necessity. But once I set myself realistic goals and grew to be disciplined in accomplishing them, I began to see my life start coming back together.

King Hezekiah was one of the many kings chronicled in the book of Kings who had a major setback almost throw his life into chaos. He had served God faithfully by destroying articles of idol worship that led the Israelites astray and he faithfully kept the commands of the Lord. He sought the Lord when he was in trouble and did things by the book. The Bible even said there was no king like him in Judah, neither before or after. Talk about a great resume!

Everything looked to be going Hezekiah’s way until one day he got sick. Some people don’t miss a beat when they get sick. I am not one of those people. When I get sick, I can’t walk or talk and I milk every ounce of help I can get out of my family. 

Hezekiah must have been doing pretty badly because the prophet Isaiah shows up and tells him to get his life organized because he was going to die from his illness. I wonder if this news surprised Hezekiah. When we think of prophets, we often think they must be coming with a good word from God. I’m sure he expected to hear a “Get up and walk” or “You’ve been made whole.” But that was not the word God had for him.

After serving God faithfully and even helping the Israelites to return to serving God faithfully, you would think things would work out well for him. There’s a strange misunderstanding that as Christians, we will never go through a hardship or trial once we accept the Lord Jesus as our savior. That somehow, magically, all misfortune will avoid our lives to allow us to live blessed and highly favored. While I do believe we have a once unattainable favor and grace in our lives when we get saved, I don’t believe we are placed inside of a Christian bubble wrap that keeps all bad things away from us. That’s just life. People get sick. People get hurt. People die. Christians included. 

But the difference is, as children of God, we have access to someone who has the ability to change our situations. And Hezekiah knew this. Hezekiah went back to a habit that he practiced consistently his entire life. He prayed. The Bible says that when the prophet Isaiah left, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and reminded God of all he had done to walk right before him. Look at his prayer:

“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” (‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭20:2-3). For those who think that our tears don’t move God, I have to disagree. Who, as a parent, sees their child crying out in pain and turns a blind eye? God, as our heavenly Father and creator, cares about the things that concern us. That’s why we’re encouraged to cast our cares upon him, because he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7). ‬ 

Hezekiah had always gone to the Lord in times of distress. In times of threats, he went to God. In times of battle, he went to God. So this conflict had no different strategy. He went to God. It seems so simple, right? I’m not trying to oversimplify anything you might be going through, but I want to encourage you to stay consistent in seeking God. 

If you haven’t been consistent in your time with God, today is a good day to start. Sometimes we treat our spiritual health like our physical health. “Wow! Is that scale accurate? Do I need my eyes checked or are those late night snacks catching up to me!? I’m going to start working out this Monday. I’m going to run 3 miles and drink a gallon of water and eat only salads for lunch! But Monday is the 17th so maybe I’ll wait until the 1st of next month so I can get everything together.” 

We put things off, waiting for an ideal time to start. We want to wait until everything is perfect, the weather is perfect, the budget is perfect before we start making changes. But we can begin to be consistent now. Right now! Take out your Bible and read one verse. I’ll wait!

Okay. Now do the same thing tomorrow. Take out your Bible and read one verse. Do the same thing until reading a verse everyday becomes consistent. Then add another verse and let it become consistent. Perfection and consistency are not roommates. In fact, perfectionism is the upstairs neighbor that plays his music too loud and walks too hard to be living on the 3rd floor! 

Discipline yourself to remain consistent even in conflict. When the storm has passed, you will be much further along than if you had waited for clear skies before even starting.

Go and Make, Not Come and Take

I talk to everyone about everything. If we are standing in line at Target next to each other, I will know your life story and we will connect on Facebook before you leave.

I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, even if just for a few minutes before our lives separate for eternity. Or will they?

While I need to reinstate this practice more regularly, I often end my conversations with strangers by asking this question: IF THERE WAS ONE THING I COULD PRAY FOR YOU, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’m not embarrassed to ask this either. I’ve seen so many Christians break into a full sweat when they are asked to pray. We aren’t afraid to share shopping deals, political opinions or criticisms but sharing the good news?! We’d rather just secretly give them a glossy invitation to visit our church and run back into the black of night.

I’m not against inviting people to church. But what if they don’t come? I was invited to church for 8 months straight, every week. I always had excuse. Plans with friends. Plans with drinks. Plans with the cat. Anything to get out of going to church. That’s where the hypocrites are!!

People will turn down invitations but they will rarely turn down prayer. In fact, NO ONE has every said to me, “Actually everything in my life is working out perfectly. My kids, my money, my health, my job, my relatives are all exactly like I want it. Find someone else to pray for.”

In fact, I often end up praying for very dire situations and ending up hugging a crying stranger in aisle 9 of Walmart. We don’t know what people need at first glance, but God does.

This interaction allows me to ask them the most important question they will hear in their lives: Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Prayer is a wonderful gateway to show people you don’t just care about them visiting your church or coming to an event, but that you care about their life and eternity.

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 28:18, a verse known as the Great Commission, to go and make disciples. A commission is an authority to act for, in behalf of, or in place of another. Jesus basically told us to keep doing what he was doing since he was leaving.

Cue the rant!! (Don’t act surprised; you know I like a good rant!) It’s time to leave the comforts of our cozy churches and events. It’s time to get serious about presenting the gospel to people. We can’t wait for the stray visitor we don’t recognize that probably came from another church to come through our doors.

There are people dying and they don’t know Jesus. They are going to hell. Yes, HELL! It’s a real place and if we aren’t vocal in inviting people to know Christ, they will end up there.

I had a dream this week that I was being raptured. Well, I think was being raptured. I began floating off of earth and proceeded to low earth orbit (LEO for my fellow space nerds) then on to deeper space. I started freaking out because I had no type of protective gear. How was I even alive! I figured I had to be on my way to heaven but when I looked around I was alone.

That’s all I remember of the dream. But it made me question: How many of us are going to heaven alone? Are our families coming? Coworkers? Friends? Neighbors? I have friends that aren’t coming and it makes me sad. I’ve cried many times at the thought of it, asking God to open their eyes to the free gift of salvation I’ve shared with them.

I think we (the church) have misrepresented the gospel. We encourage nonbelievers and believers alike to come and take. “Come to Jesus and you’ll get everything you ever wanted! New car, nice house, vacations! Just come to our church and we’ll show you how!”

I’m definitely a believer and supporter of the message of prosperity and abundance but that’s just half of it. 2 Corinthians 9:8 says “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

God isn’t opening the windows of heaven to shower us with blessings just for us. They are for every good work! And the best work we can do is the one he commissioned for us to do: Go and make.

Find your Faith

I live in a smaller city in Southeast Wisconsin and get on the freeway maybe once a month or so. It’s a far less busy pace than the larger Texan cities I was raised in! So when I started learning more about using my telescope, I learned very quickly that living in the city really added limitations to what I could see with my telescope. 

I thought I’d be better off because I didn’t live in a large city but discovered that even being located between the two big cities of Chicago and Milwaukee caused my experience with the night sky to be hindered. Light pollution is a term used in astronomy to describe the brightening of the night sky caused by street lights and other man-made sources, which has a disruptive effect on natural cycles and inhibits the observation of stars and planets.

In 2001, a scale was created by John Bortle to help amateur astronomers evaluate the darkness of an observation site that measured the night sky’s brightness in a particular location. The Bortle scale is a nine-level numeric scale that ranges from Class 1, the darkest skies available on Earth, through Class 9, inner-city skies. So the farther away you are from big cities and lights, the more you can observe the sky without interference.  

Just like in astronomy, location is everything when operating in faith! Our world is filled with all kinds of pollution that will hinder us from seeing the future God has for us. We’re bombarded with advertisements that tell us we can have the best car for 6 years of financing, causing financial freedom to be harder to see. We’re told our old phones need to be upgraded, creating further distance between us and contentment. We can scroll for hours, looking into the lives of others, liking the pictures of the vacation we wish we went on or the child’s birthday party we wish we’d thrown.

Sometimes, I miss the days when you only knew what was in your house and maybe a few friends. Now we have access to the homes and lives of people from a wide spectrum of income categories, varying degrees of debt and EVERYONE’s opinion! I promise, I’m not going on a rant about the downward spiral of humanity and our increasing dependence on technology that is creating a culture of discontent, overly informed individuals. I’m not! But I will say that where we position ourselves spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially, will have a major effect on what we can expect to see in our lives.

We have to be intentional about positioning ourselves in a place where we can find our faith and be able to live it out everyday. I’m not telling you to move to a ranch in Wyoming far from civilization and live a life of solitude so you can be closer to God. But I am saying that we must position ourselves in the optimal place to be able to use our faith most effectively. 

I’m reminded of a person in the Bible who made a decision to change her position and it resulted in her becoming the ancestor of one Israel’s most famous kings. In the book of Ruth, we meet a young Moabite woman who is faced with a tough decision of whether to return to her home and people after the death of her husband or relocate to an unknown land with her mother-in-law. 

Now here’s the part where you expect a mean mother in law joke, but I’m sorry to disappoint you! I actually love my mother in law and we have a great relationship! Ruth must have had a good relationship with her mother in law, Naomi, because she went on to Israel with her. 

We learn that upon arriving to Naomi‘s home in Israel, Ruth ends up working in the field of one of their close relatives to make ends meet. She is greeted with kindness and favor from Boaz, the owner of the field and close relative, who makes sure that she is taken care of as she worked in the fields. 

Over the course of time, Boaz and Ruth marry, and she becomes the mother of a son named Obed. Obed becomes the father of a son, Jesse and Jesse becomes the father of a young, shepherd boy who would grow to be Israel’s most famous king and the writer of much of the book of Psalms, King David. 

Because of her decision to change her location, Ruth became the great grandmother of a king. What impact could you have on the outcome of your legacy by positioning yourself today to operate in great faith? 

Are you believing by faith that you will enjoy financial freedom? Position yourself around individuals who have accomplished financial freedom and can help guide you along the way. Are you believing that you will be healed of an illness? Position yourself next to someone who God has healed so that you stay encouraged when it gets tough. 

When you find the right position, it’s amazing what you will see. Goals and dreams you thought were unreachable become clear. Unspoken aspirations find the freedom to breathe and grow, and you can trust God to fill the gap of the impossible as you position yourself in his presence and in His word.

BOOT CAMP: Wk 5 Worship

Check out this week’s podcast on Anchor!

In March 2006, I pulled up to a nice looking brick church. The parking lot was almost empty so I knew I was early. I just sat in the car for a while and watched people begin to arrive and go inside. They looked nice enough and some even smiled at me through the glass, as if they knew the hesitancy I felt about joining them. I finally went in but I sat in the last row so I could leave if I got uncomfortable. An older man came up and encouraged me to sit closer. After I ran out of excuses as to why I’d rather sit in the back, I gave in and moved to the 3rd or 4th row.

The lights went down and a young Hispanic guy with thick black hair came up and began to sing and play the keyboard. He could have been singing in another language as far as I was concerned. I hadn’t ever heard these songs and honestly, they didn’t make sense to me. “I am a friend of God?” But I thought God was mean! “I worship you because of who you are?” What does that even mean! Well, at least the keyboard player was hot! (It’s ok, he’s my husband now! I can say that!)

As I stood there, surrounded by people with their eyes closed and arms lifted up, my heart began to burn. Literally. It’s hard to put into words what I felt inside. When I think about it now, I’m reminded of the story in Luke when two men were walking on the road to Emmaus after Jesus had been crucified. Jesus appeared to them, but they didn’t know who he was. Jesus went on to walk with them, talk with them and even eat with them, but it wasn’t until he disappeared from their sight that they realized they had been with the Lord. One said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

That’s what I felt. A burning, an urging. I was in the presence of God, and even though I didn’t understand what was happening, I knew enough to know that I needed him. I asked Jesus into my life, right during praise and worship. With tears flowing down my face, I sat down when the music ended, knowing something was different. I looked up to see the same older man who encouraged me to move closer begin to teach, realizing now that he was the pastor of the church! At the end of the service, he asked if anyone wanted a new life in Christ, and I basically ran to the front of the church!

This is why worship is so important to me personally. I met Jesus in worship. I hadn’t heard a sermon or powerful teaching. I met Jesus as my heart softened and worship filled the room. I’ve heard testimonies of people being healed during praise and worship. In the Old Testament, the army of Israel sent the worshippers out first before battle!

There are any ways to worship God, but I am talking specifically about praise and worship in regards to music. I sing on the praise team at my church and have been involved in leading worship for over 15 years. I would say I’m a bit more charismatic and demonstrative during worship, but when you come from where I came from, you’d understand.

Worship is an outward expression of an inward revelation. When we understand who God is and all that he has done and constantly does for us, our response would be nothing but gratitude. Setting the atmosphere is such a vital part of our weekly worship of God.

Worship cannot be something we do only on Sunday morning. I ran a half marathon in 2019 and am training for a marathon now. I remember during the half marathon seeing people limping and crying towards the end. You can tell they hadn’t trained and prepared properly. I can tell Sunday mornings who hasn’t trained as well!

I make it a point during the week to spend time worshipping God in my house. When I get to church Sunday morning, I’ve already meditated on how good he is. I’ve already thanked him for salvation and delivering me from my sin. I’ve already welcomed his presence into my day.

This week, focus on making praise and worship a part of your week. It’s better than focusing on problems and worrying! We can make the decision everyday to fill our mouths and homes with praise!