Why Your Dream is Important!

@jenniferkostick

Every time I stand in front of the ocean, I’m more aware of just how powerful God is and how nothing He created was, or is, accidental. We’ve all been given a gift of purpose. Every life has meaning and there’s a specific plan envisioned for each one.

Without a vision the people perish. (See Proverbs 29:18)

Just like God has a vision for our lives, we must have a vision as well. We must be active and obedient in taking steps toward God-inspired dreams. We can’t give up or look back regardless of how difficult the road ahead looks. We have to stand strong, and for inside the moments when it seems impossible, we need to remember nothing is impossible with Jesus. When we can’t, He always can.

And, friend, I’ve had days when I didn’t think I could. I’ve had seasons of feeling He was far, and I was searching to find Him. Believe it or not, those are the times we are actually drawing nearer and nearer to our dreams becoming realities. Those are the moments when our vision aligns with His will, pulling us into our purpose one step at a time. With obedience comes blessing.

Sure, it’s easy to obey when everything looks lovely and the sun is shining on the golden sand beach right next to His powerful waters. But I’m talking about obeying through sandstorms and finding our way through pelting waves. Here’s the thing: the closer you stick to the truth of Christ, the closer He is, even if you don’t feel Him there.

I think we can all agree that the world has gone crazy and those of us who have escaped it thus far are praising Jesus everyday for the blessings He’s given. What I’m suggesting is this: That we thank Him for the blessings which lie ahead, even if we’ve not walked inside the reality of them as of yet. I’m suggesting we throw up our hands in praise rather than fists ready to fight the God who seems too far. I’m suggesting our lives become lights of praise and thanksgiving in the middle of dark, dark places.

Your dream has the power to change lives! (Tweet that)

Let us search ourselves, find our vision, and run toward the will of God. He is big and nothing is impossible for Him. (See Luke 1:37)

Love,

Jennifer

Do NOT Lose Heart

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.-2 Corinthians 4_16

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

-2 Corinthians 4:16

“Therefore, we do not lose heart.” The apostle Paul was a very matter-of-fact kind of guy and when it came to faith in Christ, there was no arguing anything the Holy Spirit guided Him to write. “We do not lose heart.” Translation: there’s no other option but to march full steam ahead in faith.

In the middle of life’s upheaval, that command isn’t easy to follow. This is why so much of our faith in Christ must be rooted in discipline. After all, the word disciple comes from the word discipline. We must discipline ourselves to follow Christ. So, how do we not lose heart? How is it possible to live victorious in the middle of trials and tribulations? It’s a faith journey, friend, and we are all on one.

Faith comes by hearing the word of God. (See Romans 10:17) Hearing, and hearing, and hearing some more! Over and over again we must discipline ourselves in the word of God that we might gain faith by connecting to His message on the pages. (As a side note, I believe in reading the Bible out loud whenever possible. It helps!)

Whatever it is you’re facing today, it’s part of your faith journey and the story of that journey is being written each day as you take steps in confidence that God is big enough, strong enough, and capable enough. He is enough.

Listen, I know it seems ridiculous that my answer to your trouble would be to hear the word  of God and actively pursue a faith journey. But I have no regrets in saying it. As absurd as it sounds, we have no other choice. There is no other road or way that will lead us to peace. There is no other form of healing or help. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.

I love the way it’s phrased in the King James Bible:

My Help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121:2

There’s no doubt about it, right? My help cometh! It’s coming!

Think about this: What if we all allowed our tragedy to fuel our trajectory, leading us to deeper faith and complete peace regardless of the circumstances?

Therefore, we do NOT lose heart.

Love,

Jennifer

When Compassion Hurts…

When Compassion Hurts...

Lately, I’ve been asking God for deeper insight, greater strength, and the ability to show compassion on a level I haven’t yet experienced. I want my faith to be fresh, not dusty or full of what’s expected and natural. I want the unexpected supernatural.

Hope and life seem to develop from ashes. Our greatest strength is stirred inside deep waters of weakness. This is how we know grace truly lives and covers all.

Not long ago, I learned that compassion is a strong emotion requiring action. That means you have no choice but to do something. When compassion takes over, there’s no more sitting idle. You do what you have to do regardless of whether you’re sure of the outcome or not. In scripture, when Jesus feels compassion He’s moved to action. He heals, He prays, He does whatever is required of Him.

Based on the scriptural view of compassion, I can honestly say it’s a foreign emotion for many of us. We often experience sadness based on our own experiences, or from pain others are suffering, and we can all identify with what anger feels like. But can you pinpoint the last time you were moved to act righteously based on the feeling of compassion? I have to wonder how often we allow our deep waters of weakness to be stirred by this seemingly foreign emotion? And, how often does strength prevail because of it?

I recently felt compassion.

Based on my own experience, the action forced from compassion did not feel good. I didn’t feel rewarded after doing the right thing; I had no resolve or letting go of pain. If anything, I felt deeper pain. However, I want to please God, and I have deep faith that what we do solely for Him will add strength and peace to each new day. The words in 1 Samuel 15:22 come to mind, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” (Before the cross, sacrificing animals was the atonement for sin, however, if one obeyed in the first place, there was no need for the sacrifice because there was no sin for which to atone.)

He’s a good God full of righteousness, peace, and plans for each life. I don’t know why He allows us to pour love into certain people only to end up hurt. I don’t know why some suffer so deeply that they lash out and turn from those who have loved them. I have know idea why compassion sometimes hurts us to the core. I only know I must fight for obedience to live alongside pain. I must allow both obedience and pain to walk hand-in-hand so that when something hurts, God can work. Pain doesn’t have to fester and bring forth bitterness; it can work with obedience to bring forth beauty. It’s a choice, friend.

When it comes to compassion, He requires different actions from different people. It depends on the situation. Mine is obviously close to the heart and comes from a fractured relationship. It’s a heart matter and we all know matters of the heart hurt most. I don’t know what’s going on inside your life or what might be cutting at your heart. I’m not sure what action God will require of you once you feel the strong emotion of compassion,  but let me encourage you with this: compassion is a wonderful, productive emotion. Don’t run scared of it. When you feel it, you will have no other choice but to move. It means you’ve chosen obedience. It is possible for obedience and pain to coexist in a healthy manner. And when they do, grace flows down.

I wish every situation/relationship wrapped up perfectly with a storybook ending. I wish unity was a priority for everyone. And, Dear God, I wish people made better decisions, including me. But here’s the thing: After all the tears are shed, when we allow pain and obedience to work together, we have a redeemed ending. We were made for holy redemption by which the covering of grace pours so thick the will of God takes over and breathes life. We must believe that in the hardest most hurtful moments, God is moving with compassion on us, and so we must move with compassion for others.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing…

-1 Peter 3:8-9

Love,

Jennifer

Why You Need to Make Praise Your Purpose…

_Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day._-Psalm 71_8

“Let my mouth be filled with Your praise and with Your glory all the day.”

-Psalm 71:8

This entire Psalm is written from the perspective of an older person having already left the days of his youth. The particular plea we read in verse 8 gives us a great example of prayer that should never leave our lips regardless of age.

How often do we exhibit praise and glory to God in the midst of tiring and trying circumstances? How often do we show the love of Jesus in a traffic Jam, or when we’re angry with the next door neighbor? How often do we allow our mouths to be empty of praise and glory unto Him? If I’m going to be honest, I have to say I can easily forget. I often let the sin of my heart, and the tug-of-war between my flesh and the Spirit of God who dwells inside, to battle more often than needed.

We can’t control everything in life, nor should we try, but there are many choices we can make that might kill our pride, but in the end, sooth our spirits in the form of grace.  And by the way, choosing to kill our pride is needed in order to massacre the sins of our flesh looking to consume us. Humility is the key to grace.

James tells us that God gives grace to the humble. More grace! (See James 4:6)

I’m in need of grace every single day of my life. My prayer is that I will become much better at choosing, even in the midst of life’s difficulties, that my mouth be filled with praise and with the glory of God.

We all face circumstances, some major; some minor, that should cause us to look at Psalm 71:8 with new eyes. Putting death to pride and breathing life to humility isn’t easy, but freeing. It’s a challenging request from our heavenly Father reminding us He is for us, not against us.

May each of us allow our mouth to be filled with praise and glory. May we keep in mind that pride is a killer and humility is grace in the form of CPR meant to give us each, not just eternal life, our best life right now. Your circumstances might be hopeless, but the good news is you serve the God of hope! When we fill our mouths with praise, it’s like administering medicine which opens our eyes to His gift of grace surrounding us every moment.

Bottom line: Every negative circumstance shows glimmers of positivity and hope when we praise the Almighty.

Make praise your purpose!

Love,

Jennifer

Because I Can’t Keep Track of All These “National Days”

Because I Can't Keep Track of All These _National Days_

Silly picture, right? I’m not big on selfies, but I thought (And this is so not like me.) a little cup of virtual coffee might be a nice way to start today. Here’s why…

According to social media, every single day is meant to be known for something. Doughnut day, siblings day, you name it, there is somehow newfound significance to a regular Wednesday. As of my Facebook feed this morning, I’ve been made aware one day too late that yesterday was National Best Friends Day. (C’mon, Facebook, you’re better than that!) It was also National Name Your Poison Day… I’ll let that one go.

I’m an introvert, and so I have a very small grouping of people I trust with my life. They are special to me and if the chips are down, I know where I can go. But guess what? Sometimes I don’t. Often, because of my personality, I like to pretend I’m okay, put on a smile, and not let anyone see what’s going on inside. I’m guessing there are many of you shaking heads in a resounding amen right about now. Am I right? Sometimes, this behavior is necessary. Other times, God is saying, “Step out of your box; my children need each other.”

God in all His brilliance designed relationships. From our relationships with Him, to marriage, to friendship – we have examples all throughout the Bible of beauty right smack dab in the middle of difficulty. We’re made to love, reach out, and steady another human. We are called to influence, share wisdom, be cheerleaders, counselors, cry partners, and crazy joy dancers with others. We are made for each other. We truly can be the hands and feet of Christ.

Maybe you don’t have a group of girlfriends. Maybe you’ve been so apprehensive about putting your own needs and problems out in front that you’ve not even trusted your closest confidant with your heart’s cry. If that’s true of who you are, I want to encourage you to reach out to someone today. You don’t have to share your deepest problems or most intimate secrets, you can just take this average Thursday to let someone else know you’re there for them. In today’s day, it’s easy to make someone aware you’re thinking of them. A simple phone call, text message, email, or social media post will do the job. And, if you’re a super introvert like I tend to be, maybe you can open your Bible and pray a scripture over their lives. I can’t think of a better way to support someone in this life than taking them to the throne in prayer.

I’ve often found that my deepest needs are met in the middle of serving someone else. (Tweet that.)

On this blog, I tend to get email and Facebook messages over comments. People usually like to share prayer requests privately. And let me tell you, I love hearing from you! Today, though, I thought maybe we can use the comments and encourage each other. Tell a story about a close friend, cheer for someone else, share a cup of virtual coffee together. Is that corny? I think so, but I like it anyway!

I’m not even sure if there’s a way to post pictures in the comment section because my tech skills are lacking. (Shout out to my husband for keeping this blog running!)

Anyway, someone out there needs to hear from you, and you need to hear from them!

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

-Proverbs 27:17

Happy belated National Best Friends Day!

Love,

Jennifer

PS: Last year, I wrote this post about belonging to community. You might want to give it a read.

 

The Question You Need to Ask God When Dealing with Anxiety…

The Question You Need to Ask God When Dealing with Anxiety

I’m not always certain what triggers anxiety in me. It’s usually the little things rather than the big things. It can come from a noise too loud or a light too bright. Regardless, it comes. Like a fast train headed down the tracks, it has full intent of taking me on a journey. My heart beats fast while my thoughts focus on nothing else but the feeling of a war waged deep within.

I remember being a little girl when it started. I would wake my mom up in the middle of the night and tell her, “I have the feelings in my throat.” What I couldn’t communicate at that young age was I felt as if I couldn’t swallow. It was as if something was blocking my airway, but nothing really was. To this day, if a bad panic attack sets in, swallowing is difficult.

I’ve often felt ridiculous about being plagued with anxiety. I’m healthy, my family is healthy, we have nothing to complain about. Everyone goes through the mud at times, but we always reemerge and clean up well.  Many times I’ve thought, It’s a shame there are people in hospice care dealing with life better that I can. The whole thing causes guilt. And guilt does nothing more than lead to deeper anxiety.

I’ve asked God the famous question, “why?” The truth is, I’m not sure He’s ever answered specifically.  In fact, I’m not sure He’s ever answered that question at all. I’ve pretty much determined  the “why’s” of life are for Him alone and really none of my business. It’s the “How?”question He tends to answer best and most often.

When I ask, “How?” He answers, “Jesus.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

-John 14:6

Jesus is the how. In every situation Jesus is the answer. Yes, I know, it sounds like a typical cliché Christian remedy with no layer of depth and not one admission to open mindedness. Welcome to the life of a Jesus Lover who knows God can beat any enemy, even anxiety. Having this belief system most certainly doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, and everyone who knows me will tell you I’m nowhere near perfect. The only place my Jesus lover self has an edge is where hope lives.

I’m a hope seeker, and I go to my knees to find it – To find Him.

I don’t battle anxiety nearly the way I used to. However, some days I feel all the old feelings. Today, I’ve been thinking about you who might be feeling panic and anxiety. I’m thinking of you who are waving a white flag of surrender because you feel you have zero control. Well, I’m no medical professional and when I feel it rising up, I often don’t believe I have any control either. And though some may disagree, I don’t think medication is off the table when you’re having proper counseling and medical supervision. However, I need to tell you this: In the middle of your darkest battle, BE A HOPE SEEKER. Don’t stop looking for hope, and don’t let your hope be called anything other than Jesus. Some days are harder than others and if we’re not careful, those days can dissuade us from living our purpose. Anxiety does nothing but work to distract us from hope. It makes us feel as if there’s something terribly wrong, when in actuality, God sent His only Son to make everything right.  No matter what today holds, our ending is victorious.

When we allow anxiety to filter our surroundings, hope becomes distant and freedom doesn’t register a definition. If we are going to battle anxiety with faith, then we must be willing to ask God for wisdom. We have to be patient, ready to take a deep breath and ask the question, how? In most cases, the question “Why?” leads to nothing more than distraction.

How do you deal with anxiety?

Love,

Jennifer

What You Need to Know About Grace…

What You Need to Know About Grace

Earlier this week, I talked about the message of the cross being the power of God. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18) Today, I want to dig into what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9… And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly […]

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Never Look Back

Never Look Back

When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, we can hear the passion in his voice. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it’s the power of God.” (See 1 Corinthians 1:18) Can you hear the plea? Do […]

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Why I’m Learning to Fear God…

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

The other day, I read a blog from John Bevere speaking of when he visited a prominent evangelist in prison. He asked the man a question, “When did you fall out of love with Jesus.” The man’s answer was surprising and gave me something to ponder. My jaw actually dropped when I read his response. […]

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You Don’t Have to Be the Best!

Jenniferkostick.com(8)

I’m sitting here this morning completely overwhelmed by tasks on my to-do lists. I decided to write to you, anyway, because I’m wondering what you’re doing and if you feel weighted down as well. Do you?  Also,  when I feel as if I’m drowning, I tend to procrastinate. Here’s what is swirling through my mind: […]

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