Making the Impossible Possible – Clarity, Courage, and Committment

The rugged path between impossible and possible is navigated through clarity, courage and commitment. Each quality is essential!

Our hot water heater sprung a serious leak. Four days without hot water is a minor inconvenience. However, when outside temperature dips to -40°, a steaming hot bath before bedtime is a luxury I appreciated.

Representatives from two companies estimated the cost of replacing our near prehistoric heater. The first young man came, looked at the situation, and in less than one minute announced, “It can’t be done!” The second young men came, checked inside, outside, upside, downside, around the side, and over another side, before confirming, “Yea! No problem!” 

What made the difference? Both men were presented the same problem; both were experts in their trade. “Impossible” to one perhaps meant, “too much trouble!” “Possible” from the other displayed a willingness to overcome any obstacles.

Overcome

Challenge

A Chinese Proverb says, 

The person who says it cannot be done,
should not interrupt the person doing.”

Many vivid accounts of men and women who overcame impossible obstacles are written within the bible.

I think of Caleb one of 12 leaders Moses sent to spy out the promised land. “It can’t be done!” ten declared! Forty-five years later while the ten nay-sayers were cold in their desert graves, Caleb continued to believe, “With God’s help, I can“.

“So here I am today, eighty-five years old!
I am still as strong today
as the day Moses sent me out;
I’m just as vigorous to go out
to battle now as I was then.
Now give me this hill country
that the LORD promised me that day.”
Joshua 14:10-11

Caleb remained willing to face the challenge head-on! Ominous giants could not prevent him from possessing God’s promise.

Mountain

We all have “hill country”, an impossibility larger than personal ability. The nature of the obstacle is unimportant!

The way up!

A job promotion or demotion,
a dream delayed or one in the making,
managing financial abundance or
facing bankruptcy.

Problems can be polar opposites! Glass ceilings waiting to be broken, fragile mirages before omnipotent God! 

Sheri Fink reminded me recently clarity, courage and commitment are three essential ingredients necessary to accomplish victory. My past failures consistently resulted from a deficiency in at least one of these areas.

Nay-sayers and critics abound in every generation. “It can’t be done,” the noisy entourage gloats! Jeering relentlessly as the brave press against an impossible situation! Caleb’s resistance came from his own “tribe”. Our greatest detractors may be those who are the nearest to our hearts.  

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
Psalm 55:12-13

Mockers, with potential to stop us, ascend from the ranks of both friend and foe. 

Clarity

Clarity is “being certain or definite“. To an artist clarity means “sharpness to the image or sound”. Clarity for the Christian comes from knowing God’s intention, hearing His voice, and perceiving His direction. 

Impossible to possible

The wise ask, “What is God saying?”

It would be foolish for Caleb to face the military prowess of mighty mountain defenders without God’s direction.  

“I brought him back a report
according to my convictions
I followed the LORD my God
wholeheartedly.”
Joshua 14:7

There is a palpable difference between truth and conviction — between fact and faith! That veritable mountain we face is insurmountable without God!

Every person who stumbled in the bible, from Eve forward, doubted God. Each questioned and reasoned until faith dissolved into fragile unbelief before the very thing God meant them to overcome.

Clarity, genuine unshakeable clarity, is to know the presence, power and word of God for our specific situation.  Without clarity one will effortlessly fall into rhythm behind the fear mongers. Without clarity conquerors become quitters

The enemy’s devious voice still echoes, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1) 

Caleb set his face like flint!  His resolute conviction slapped the Deceiver up the side of the head! He knew,

“…Humanly speaking, it is impossible.
But with God everything is possible.”
Matthew 19:26

Everything is possible

Courage

Courage separated Caleb and the masses!

“But my fellow Israelites
who went up with me made the hearts
of the people melt in fear.” 
Joshua 14:8

A few fear-filled words turned believers into doubters, the brave into cowards! “Be careful little tongue what you say,” is more than a children’s chorus. Words carry the potential to destroy like wrecking balls or form building blocks!

“We can’t … they are too strongpowerful … cities are fortified and very large … Anakites, Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Canaanites”. Panic raced through the entire camp causing hearts to faint and knees to tremble.

Two brave men courageously stood in the gap,

“We should go up
and take possession of the land,
for we can certainly do it.”
Numbers 13:30

It takes courage to “go up!” Only the brave will “take possession!” Courage affirms, “we can!”

Such courage germinates in the knowledge of God’s abiding presence. It flourishes in the shadow of the One who promises to never leave nor forsake us.

Every overcomer rises above fear to “go up” in faith!

Commitment

I heard a story of a runner who intently prepared, conditioning body and mind, to run a marathon. He trained on a 26 mile course. After passing the 25 mile marker during his first marathon, he increased his pace pushing toward the finish line. The official length of a marathon is actually 26.2 miles. Miscalculating the distance, he started the sprint too soon and collapsed unconscious at the finish line. He was unprepared for the last .2 miles! 

Distance matters! It takes the tenacity of a marathon runner to face the impossible! It requires commitment to finish well!

“So on that day Moses swore to me,
‘the land on which your feet have walked
will be your inheritance
and that of your children forever,
because you have followed the LORD
my God wholeheartedly.'”
Joshua 14:9

Even though Caleb heard the clear word from God through Moses, it still took commitment to claim his promise. His entire generation died in the wilderness. Were there times of doubt in the desert?

Commitment

Caleb endured seemingly endless wandering in the wasteland, survived plagues, judgements and wars.  Yet, the promise echoed in his heart as clearly as the day it was spoken. 

Caleb refused to quit before he conquered! 

“Now then, just as the LORD promised,
he has kept me alive for forty-five years…”
Joshua 14:10

Forty five years of trusting, waiting, training, and persevering. Forty five years of commitment to God who is faithful. Caleb looked to the finish line; he ran the distance.

Take Your Mountain!

With Caleb as our example, let’s remember God is bigger, stronger, and greater than any mountain standing in our way! 

May we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus! Acknowledge that “great crowd of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) cheering us on! Seeking the clarity needed from the Word of God, may we each take courage in His Presence, with commitment to conquer.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus.
Everything is possible
for one who believes.”
Mark 9:23

Whether the mountain is a difficult obstruction or a dream unfulfilled, let’s go for it! How many new songs will be song, books published, and missions accomplished if we do? God is ready to partner with you in your impossible, creating a place for Him to receive glory?

Don’t quit! Conquer! Turn the impossible into possible!

**********

Further Reading:

Second is Better Than First! When Second is Best!

A Hero – “If You Need Someone Strong, I’m The One!”

Hero or Superhero

Have you met a hero? One day at work, a gaggle of overactive preschoolers ran past my office door: two girls with long hair bobbing, followed by two enthusiastic boys. One little guy in the middle announced with exuberance, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

True heroes are rare! I have no doubt this youngster has the right attitude!

I broke out in open laughter in response to such confidence coming from one so small. The more I thought of it, however, I realized I should possess this same buoyant enthusiasm.

“No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us.”
Romans 8:37

Small but strong hero!

God planted inside each of us a desire to overcome, triumph, defend justice, and fight for what is right. Children don’t hide it socially like adults do, but we all have this godly desire.

Overcome

Ask any child to name their favorite superhero and you might be there for awhile! The “first” superheroes emerged in the 1930’s. The list of imaginary “supers” is long!

Ask an adult the same question. Their ballots may include people of excellence in sports, arts & entertainment, social justice or a multitude of other fields.

A hero, according to Oxford Dictionary, is someone who is “admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.” Look around for a moment. You will see heroes hidden behind humble acts of service rather than standing in front of a microphones or cameras. True heroes live well

parents, teachers, doctors, plumbers,
farmers, truckers, nurses, administrative assistants,
husbands and wives, neighbours and friends
courageously and faithfully
feet to the road and grit in their teeth

When there is unrewarding, difficult, relentless tasks, heroes say, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

Yet, at the same  time, they face their humanity with all its limitations. Listen to this:

“…For apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

Heroes face their impossibilities not with drooped heads but rather with hearts of courage and eyes fixed upward.

Superheroes are made not born!

“I’m the one!” kind of people don’t back down from a fight; they press in to overcome!

If you need someone strong, I'm the one! Click To Tweet

Triumph

Heroes face grave opposition and come through! In knowing their strengths and their weaknesses, they are prepared to accentuate those strengths and place extra protection over their weakest area.

 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand
against the devil’s schemes.”
Ephesians 1:10-11

Actually, most of those who triumphed in the bible were not seeking front-line duty. Think of

Esther a young non-descript Jewish girl,
David, a young shepherd,
Samuel, as a small boy, dedicated to serve in the church
Moses, a foster child, a ward of the state, run-away, then shepherd
Gideon a farmer or Daniel a refugee
Ruth, a widow,
Peter, James and John, simple fishermen

High risk and no visible guarantee marked the tasks ahead of them. None of them had their hand raised saying, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

Overcome evil with good

As a matter of fact, they were reluctant to step into God’s assignment. However, all of them grasped the truth

 “…What is impossible with man
is possible with God.”
Luke 18:27

Like true heroes they put on their God given armour and fought the fight of faith, triumphantly bringing good over the evil in their day.

Miraculous

Some of the last words of Jesus resonates as a call to heroism.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation
….and these signs will accompany those who believe;
In my name they will drive out demons;
they will speak in new tongues;
they will pick up snakes with their hands;
and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all;
they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Mark 16:15-20

Greater is HE that is in us, than he that is in the world!

Clearly “superhero” stuff, right? Yet, Jesus said, these superhero qualities are for all “who believe”! Now that is a bold kind of faith!

Oh, but it is a faith that those who believe are running with!

Everyday people are set free from demonic strongholds, bodies are healed, minds restored, and some are even raised from the dead. Faith is being activated in people globally to walk as God’s heroes, trusting His word, and radically taking risks.

Faith is often spelled r-i-s-k! It may feel risky to pray for the sick to be healed, until they are. It may also feel risky to step into the fray and cast out demons, until they do. We will never see the dead raised to life, until we ask.

I can tell, I’m losing some of you here, but listen again to what Jesus commanded:

Heal the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.
Freely you have received; freely give.”
Matthew 10:8

I am convinced we have received far more through faith in Jesus Christ than we are presently accessing or releasing.

SuperGram

There is one more hero you, of course, have never heard about. Her name is “SuperGram”. Apparently one of her greatest powers is “master-mind”.

If you need someone strong, I'm the one!

The reason you have never heard of her, is because she was just so “bestowed” only yesterday!

Yes, only yesterday, my 6 year old grandson came to where I work secretly announcing my new position. Of course, he revealed his own super status and the secret powers he too possessed. He went around lavishly disclosing the hidden super hero strength of others as well. My girlfriend was instantly dubbed “Lightning Woman!”

I chucked and I’m sure you are too!

Yet at the same time, I feel Jesus nudge my heart just a little, “you are far more super hero than you realize”!

Why? Because

“Ye are of God, little children,
and have overcome them:
because greater is he that is in you,
than he that is in the world.”
1 John 4:4

Why? Because God is greater! The One who resides in us is greater than all else! As God’s children, we may be small, but we are overcomers!

Take this fresh motto from a child, “If you need someone strong, I’m the one!”

Embrace God’s truth; be a hero!

**********

Further Reading

Normal? What Does It Mean To Be Normal Christian?

Does Faith Stand Alone or Does Faith Require Action?

Childlike! Change and Become Like a Little Child

 

 

The Righteous are as Bold as a Lion – Survive and Thrive

Survive & Thrive - The Righteous are as Bold as a Lion

Apparently one way to age a lion is by scarring on its face. Scars show the fearless characteristic of a lion. The bible calls the righteous “as bold as a lion”. The scars of those who survive and thrive are evidence enough of their bold faith and tenacious perseverance!

“The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
Proverbs 28:1

The righteous are as bold as a lion!

Do you notice the difference between the “wicked” and the “righteous”? One runs from harmless shadows, the other faces real and impending threat squarely. We have to admit, there isn’t much a lion will back down from.

Brave of Heart

To be lionhearted describes someone who is unflinchingly brave and courageous in the face of danger.

In the months ahead, I will be sharing stories of personal heroism demonstrated in the lives of some incredible people I know and appreciate.

Unflinching in danger they thrive!

Though none would consider themselves either brave or “bold as a lion”, their journey reveals a different story. Each one has faced dangers of various kinds. They have the scars to prove it!

Those who thrive hold wisdom like gold dust loosely in their hands. They willingly and with liberality reach into their experiences and share the treasures they have found in Christ, allowing the winds of the Spirit to inspire others. Their stories igniting faith, hope and courage in the rest of us.

Jesus said,

“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

As we examine their lives, we will clearly see the difference between surviving and thriving is rooted in their faith and the unshakable love of Christ.

Love of Christ

Paul prayed for the Ephesian church,

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high
and deep is the love of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:17,18

Rooted and grounded in the love of Christ

“In this is love, not that we loved God
but that he loved us
” 1 John 4:10

God’s love is unconditional! God loves, because He is love!

Courage and bravery are not necessary to somehow merit His love. He loves us as we are. He loves us completely, even in our weakness and frailty. God will never love us more; He has no capacity to love us less.

It is in the basis of this relationship of love that survivors thrive.

Thriving Against all Odds

What makes someone brave? What compels one person to face life’s toughness squarely while another turns and runs?

“Courage is not the absence of fear, 
but the triumph over it”
Nelson Mandela

Thriving against all odds!

David’s bravery was tested in the pastures with his flock:

“…When a lion or a bear came
and carried off a sheep from the flock,
I went after it, struck it and rescued
the sheep from its mouth.
When it turned on me,
I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed.”
I Samuel 17:34-35

Acts of bravery aren’t always physically!

It takes courage to not only see your own way through difficult, but to lead others into victory as well. “Thrivers” are mothers and fathers who

love with the love of Christ,
disciple younger ones to maturity,
foster godly character,
instill hope and impart vision.

Lioness protecting and providing

Those Who Thrive Speak

My husband still teases me about my “farmer’s call”. Being the mother of five active sons who enjoyed roaming the acres beyond our farm yard, this “momma” learned to call her young in for supper or bedtime with a distinct “Yoohoo” that could be heard far and wide. It is a non-comparison to a lions roar, however!

I have read that the spine-tingling roar of a lion is as loud as a turbo fan of an aircraft on takeoff, reaching 114 decibels. It is one of the loudest voices in the animal kingdom heard up to 8 kilometers away.

Lions roar to tell other lions their location, to show how big they are and to warn lions from other prides to keep away from their home territory.

“They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb and
by the word of their testimony
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.”
Revelation 12:11

As these people share their stories, it may sound more like a whisper than a roar. Truthfully though, God has given them voices that echo through generations, powerfully declaring the faithfulness of Him who is greater, Jesus Christ!

Those who Thrive Rest

I have chosen people who have discovered the power of waiting! Waiting is the womb of courageous strength!

Wait patiently for the LORD.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”
Psalm 27:14

Lions resting and waiting patiently!

Waiting is the womb of courageous strength! Click To Tweet

In the natural, the most intense development and formation occurs within the concealed and protected womb. For these, waiting and trusting in the Lord has formed the foundation of their courage and strength.

Those who have studied lions say it is a boring of occupation. Lions sleep for over 20 hours every day! That is a lot of rest! In resting, a lion is able to conserve strength for when it is most needed. It is also a position of watching; the place where wisdom is gained.

I am excited to use this blogging platform to share their stories.  It is my hope that we will all draw from their wisdom, be inspired by their strength, motivated to action, and invited into deeper faith.

“A final word:
Be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.”
Ephesians 6:10

Wake Up Deborah! Part 3 – Jael Strike the Enemy!

Deborah Arise - Jael Strike the Enemy

God planned every detail of their victory, not just for Israel, but beyond. Deborah’s voice and Barak’s bravery secured the battlefield, but the courage of Jael would extend the victory to all. It is time to strike the enemy!

You never have to go looking for your enemy! The enemy is looking for you!

Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8

Our story began with a woman, “the wife of Lappidoth.” Let me introduce you to Jael, “the wife of Heber.”

Opposites Attract

If ever there were opposites, Deborah and Jael are a perfect illustration. Jael’s husband Heber had

moved away from his tribe…
Heber’s family was on friendly terms with King Jabin.”
Judges 4:11, 17

Heber means “alliance”. As a descendant of Moses’ brother-in-law, Heber believed in God but allied with the enemy.  Heber had led his whole family to do the same. In this no-man’s-land of compromise, Jael’s home was in constant jeopardy.

Heber a lover of God but ally of the enemy

They lived by the Oak of Zaanannim, “removings”.

Before you throw too much judgment at Heber, consider his predicament. He was a foreigner in a foreign land. The incessant and degrading worship of non-gods was invading his home. However by “removing” his family from Israel’s wicked influence, he was also exposing them to a greater threat of destruction by invading troops.

Heber and his family walked a fine line for survival!

On one side, we see Deborah married to a powerful man of fire and faith. She was an anointed, fruitful and honoured woman, a beautiful and rare “palm” within Israel. On the other, we find Jael as common, as ordinary, as the sheltering oaks that surrounded her tent. Yet, she possessed a strength she did not yet know.

Defeated before she began!
Struggling to make ends meet!
The cards stacked against her!
The wrong family!
The wrong place!

The Enemy Knocks

Before Sisera knocked at her door, Jael saw him coming. His presence always signaled trouble for her and her household. Alone and running for his life,

Sisera fled on foot to the tent of Jael.”
Judges 4:17

A heart as dry as the desert

Though her ears never heard Deborah’s prophecy, God had this courageous, quick thinking woman ready!

“The LORD’s victory over Sisera
will be at the hands of a woman.”
Judges 4:9

How trapped in the cycle did Jael feel?  She knew already Sisera’s army lay defeated. Why else would he be on the run, fearfully glancing over his shoulder. Even without an army, Sisera possessed enough personal strength to annihilate her family.

God had asking her distant relative,

“What is that in your hand?”
Exodus 4:2

What could she, a woman, possibly do now? Courage rose above fear! She steeled her heart and steadied her mind! Her existence depended on it!

Sisera’s wild eyes and hands whitened against his sword disclosed his unpredictable nature.

What is in Your Hand?

It was a woman’s responsibility to tend to every aspect of her tent, from construction to maintenance. She would be the one to set up, repair and dismantle it. Like every mother today, it was her responsibility to protect it!

“Come into my tent, sir. Come in. Don’t be afraid”
Judges 4:18

Jael disarmed Sisera’s fear and used his fatigue as opportunity. She calmed the wild bull of a man with warm milk, settling him in a secluded corner of her own tent. Jael covered him with her blanket assuring him to rest.

“If anybody comes and asks you if there is anyone here,
say no.”
Judges 4:20

No where to run! No where to hide!

So many lies! The deceiver asleep in her tent! How tired was Jael of running, moving and longing for security? There was no where to hide. No more lies! No more making peace with the enemy!

The Courage of Jael

How many times had lies increased trouble for her household? Countless! Each lie strangling, poisoning, numbing to truth.

“No more! No more lies!”

As Jael watched her tears fall to the dusty ground something caught her eye. There they lay where she had fastened the last cord of her tent.

Numbly she reached for the long spike and crept toward Sisera, her heartbeat echoing in her ears.

As Deborah spoke in a voiceless land, Jael would no longer be silent! If Barak moved in audacious faith to engage Sisera in battle, she would not sit still! Because 10,000 men rose to the call without sword of shield, she would not rest!

While Israel’s warriors raised their voices in triumph, one obstacle prevented lasting peace. He was asleep on Jael’s floor.

God, who brought victory for the army of Israel, steadied her hand and her resolve.

“with her left hand she reached for a tent peg,
and with her right hand for the workman’s hammer.”
Judges 5:21

Courage is contagious. It started with Deborah, ignited Barak, and activated an army. Once awakened, courage flowed to the common, the ordinary, the survivors, the crippled, and the wounded. From the same dust that drank the blood of Sisera, courage continued to rise.

A Hammer and A Nail

Jael did not know that she was the fulfillment of Deborah’s prophecy. She was simply a mother watching over her tent.

Jael also didn’t realize she signalled another blow that would crush another head.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
  Genesis 3:15

Every believer since Adam and Eve has lived, like Heber and Jael, in the borderland between faith and alliance with the enemy. Some are caught in this broken place paralyzed by fear, incapacitated by sin, and numbed by lies.

In the North American Church today only 5% of Christians live in vibrant faith:

 bible reading full of exciting revelation
readiness to share the Good News of Christ
stepping into areas of ministry
praying with fervent faith
caring for the poor and under privileged
raising up disciples
enjoying God’s abiding presence.

Borderland is the prison confines of the too many!

Christ has paid the price for freedom! In His death and resurrection, He has crushed the deceiver once and for all!

May Deborah, Barak, 10,000 warriors and an ordinary woman named Jael, ignite an appetite for more. May we not settle for borderland living, but move toward freedom! If Satan has gained access anywhere in our homes, our families, our communities, our nation, or our world… arise!

Through the victory of the cross, STRIKE the enemy! God has already crushed his head and won the battle! Reach for the hammer and the tent peg. We may only get one swing, so let’s make it good!

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If you missed the first two parts of “Arise! Wake up!”, read on!