Believing BIG in 2018

The theme this year for our church is one simple word, BIG.  I love what Pastor Jude says: We think BIG so we can believe BIG, so that we will live BIG.  We serve an incredibly BIG God. I love the scripture Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine.  For just as the heaven are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.’”

Our lives are going to be BIG this year as we tune our ears into God’s thoughts.  I love the verse before this passage, Isaiah 55:3, “Come to me with your ears wide open.  Listen and you will find life!”

Let’s tap into God’s thoughts so we can see BIG things happen. Let’s open our ears wide to listen to Him and obey whatever He tells us to do even if it sounds ridiculous and beyond our own ability!  This is where BIG happens!  Think of Noah in the Bible, God had asked him to build a boat and even gave him specific instructions how to do it.  This doesn’t seem like anything unusual because we see boats everyday.  But Noah had never seen a boat, or even rain, before!! It says about Noah in Hebrews 11:7 TPT, “Faith opened Noah’s heart to receive revelation and warnings from God about what was coming, even things that had never been seen!  But he stepped out in reverent obedience to God and built an ark that would save him and his family”

On the mantle of my fireplace is a sign my friend Lisa gave me that says, “Pray Big.”  Everyday when I wake up, this reminds me to not just pray small, safe prayers but to believe for BIG things!

My challenge for all of us this year to see BIG is to :

  1. Open our ears wide to listen to God.  Let’s walk with God closer by taking the time to not just list our prayer request but to listen for instructions from God.  Maybe He will ask you to do something that’s never been done like He did with Noah!
  2. Obey whatever He tells you.  Big things don’t happen until we activate what God is telling us to do!

One of the ways we can begin to see BIG things this year is to rehearse the BIG things God has done for us in the past!  As we go on this journey together, we are going to take the time to share more of the miracles God has done in our lives so that we can be motivated to believe for BIG things!

The following is a story of faith from my own life that I hope will stir you to listen and obey God even more.

January, 1992

Jude and I were living in Springfield, Missouri and I had a two year old and six month old.  Life was really good and easy for us there.  Our church loved us as their youth pastors.  It seemed like everything we touched turned to gold.  Exciting things were happening among the families of our church because of the youth ministry.  I had amazing friends and the cost of living was so cheap!  We had bought our first home here.  It was a brand new home that we paid $66K for.  Our house payment, including taxes and insurance, was $550.00 per month!  I remember thinking, “How can afford this?”  Ha!  Those were the days!

I could have stayed there forever and had a fun, easy life.  But, as Jude and I began to seek God about the new year, He began to nudge us to step out in faith to do something we had never done before.  One day, after an amazing youth service the previous night, Pastor Wendell Smith called us about the possibility of helping him start a church in Seattle, Washington.  We had never been to Seattle and barely knew Pastor Wendell.  We had only been with him a few times but God dropped the thought into our hearts that one day we would work with him.

As we began to “open our ears” like Isaiah 55:3 said, we began to tap into God’s thoughts and God’s ways.  I remember saying to God,  “If this is you, don’t just speak to my husband but speak to me.”  You see, in the natural it would have been a stupid move because we were not promised a job and the cost of living was double what we were paying.  We had built success in seven years of pastoring and this move would mean starting all over again.  All of our pastor friends thought we were crazy to even consider it!

God began to speak this thought to me, “You can either be comfortable or you can trust me and obey me and you will truly find your life.”

Once again, I was moved as I read my Bible in Proverbs 1:20-21 ESV: “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets SHE raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:

This scripture confirmed to me that it was the will of God to leave all and move across the country by faith.  I know this scripture seems obscure and, at the time, I wasn’t sure what it all meant. I just knew that this was one of the same scriptures God had given Pastor Wendell and Gini to confirm that they were supposed to start the church.

Looking back on this scripture over 20 years later, I realize that one of the BIG miracles I received in Seattle was healing from stuttering.  It was the first place I was able to speak for God.  Wow, God thoughts are higher than our thoughts!  He knew what His plan was for me and, as we stepped out and sold everything we had, I saw a BIG answer to my prayers.

Our church here, in Southern California, is full of people with countless stories of God’s faithfulness. As we go on this journey together, it is my hope to both hear and share more of the BIG things that God has done in our lives.

In fact, as we enter a season of 21 days of prayer and fasting on Monday, January 8th, let’s believe together for God to do more BIG things. I would love for you to take a minute and write, in the comment section* below, something BIG that you are believing for this year. I want to believe with you! Let’s pray for each other and celebrate His faithfulness as He answers us and takes us into another amazing year!

Here’s to BIG things in 2018!

XO,

Pastor Becky

*If you don’t see the comment section below, click on the title of this post so that it will open as it’s own page. From there you should be able to comment as well as share on your own social media accounts.

The BIG Bible Journey of 2018

I was so excited when Pastors Jude and Becky announced the BIG Journey Bible reading challenge for 2018, like SO excited. I’ve always loved my Bible. As a pre-teen I encountered Jesus in a truly powerful way and was so thankful to have people around who told me that the Bible is the greatest source of truth and direction I could find in this life. I have great parents, pastors and access to incredible books and podcasts but nothing has been there for me like the Bible. When I look back at the big decisions in my life, every moment has a scripture, a promise, the word of God confirming or guiding the way I should go. Some choices (like two cross-country moves) had an incredible amount of risk attached to them, but I had peace because of a word from God. Reading my Bible on a regular basis reminds me who God is, how much He loves me and how much He wants to work in my life. It creates a starting point for so many conversations with the Holy Spirit about the things that matter to me most: my marriage, my kids, my purpose in life. The Bible also gives me a clear head! Since the enemy’s greatest power is to deceive us, reading the Bible makes us so much less susceptible to the lies of discouragement, doubt and fear.

But…I’ll be honest, since giving birth to my three kids, I’ve struggled to make time to read my Bible like I used to and I miss it! I’ve started more YouVersion Bible reading plans than I care to admit, always clicking the “Catch Me Up” button three or four times before giving up all together. Sometimes when I sit down to read after being away for awhile, that nagging voice of condemnation tries to tell me it’s not worth it because I’ll never be as consistent as I “should.” BUT, when I open the pages (or the app) in that early morning when I manage to wake before my kids or late after everyone goes to bed, the word never fails to speak to me. It’s usually not complicated and it’s always encouraging or inspiring. This year, I’m filled with excitement to start anew because the only thing better than reading the Bible is reading the Bible TOGETHER with my amazing church community.

I’m excited to talk about what I’m reading with my family (we even bought this kid’s version of the One Year Bible for my seven year old) and with my City Group. Every week this year, Pastor Jude and the preaching team are going to share from what we’re reading. Maybe you’ve tried reading the Bible and have been discouraged by portions that were difficult to understand. I’ve been there too. That’s why it’s so cool that we don’t have to do this alone. We’ll be able to take time in our groups and on Sundays to ask the questions and get some answers. I know God will speak to us.

This year, we’re believing for BIG things as a church and my family and I are believing for some BIG things in our own lives. I have some questions for God about dreams and words and things He put in my heart and I believe He’s going to speak to me. Right now, we’re all asking ourselves how we can live our best life in 2018. I believe that the Bible is the answer! The Bible enables us to become like Jesus. The more we read his words, the better we know Him, the better we know ourselves, and we’re transformed (Romans 12:2). There’s plenty to be said about resolutions and weight loss plans but nothing truly changes us like the Bible does. There is no greater gift!

I know Christmas is over but I’m still thinking so much about the life of Mary. In my last post, I talked about her willingness to say “yes” to God. My family and I recently went and saw The Star, a kids movie about the birth of Jesus. I loved the way they depicted Mary in the film. She was kind and joyful and full of unwavering faith. My husband Tom, shared something about Mary with me that he read in Tim Keller’s book, Hidden Christmas. In Luke 2:19, after the world marveled at the story told by the shepherds, it says “But Mary treasured all these things in her heart and often pondered what they meant.” That scripture summarizes the attitude I want to have toward my Bible this year. It wasn’t about mental analysis, Mary was full of wonder and allowed the words to go deep into her and define her. She embraced the life God set in front of her and allowed His words to bring peace and confidence every step of the way.

I believe God wants us to experience His word in the same way. I hope you’ll join us on this journey of Bible reading in 2018. We’re going to talk about it a lot here on Beautiful Stories. You can purchase the One Year Bible we’re using (or get the one with lots of space for journaling and note-taking like I did) or you can simply download the plan for free on the Bible app. This is sure to be such a life-changing experience for all of us. We’ll be here to help and encourage all along the way. I can’t wait to hear how God speaks to each one of you.

XO Bethany