4.3.2015

What Ignoring God Could Have Cost Me

Well, we’ve been working hard to spruce this place up a tad. I hope you like it. After all, I want you to feel as at home on my blog as I do. (And if you’re reading this through email, you may want to click here to see what I’m talking about.)

I’m so glad you’ve popped over for a visit. Feel free to poke around, but before you do, read this…

It was a hot day inside and outside at the orphan village in Liberia. The 12 boys inside, practicing their choir music, found their eyes wandering over to the soccer field, where the promise of fun and the cheers of their friends tugged at them.

They were feeling the pull of wanting to go outside and play soccer. But these boys determined the choir was worth the sacrifice.

Years earlier, Liberia had been ravaged by a civil war that left more than 25,000 orphans to be cared for. So to raise money and support, an a cappella boys’ choir was formed to travel throughout the country of Liberia and perform in churches.

Two of the teenage boys in that choir, Jackson and Mark, had been orphaned as babies when their parents and most of their siblings were killed by rebel forces.

Night after night these boys knelt beside their makeshift beds and poured out prayers of thanksgiving and hope that one day they’d hear six simple yet life-changing words, “You are my child—welcome home.”

God had a perfect design for their prayers to be answered and worked miracle after miracle to bring the boys choir to America. But little did I know that my husband Art and I would be part of the answer to Mark and Jackson’s prayers.

Our life was busy and full, and we were enjoying being the parents of three little girls. So you can imagine my surprise the night I went to see The Liberian Boys’ Choir concert at our church that I was stirred to consider adoption.

As I sat in the concert, God whispered to my heart that two of those boys singing were mine. No, I thought. Not me.

I felt like sticking my fingers in my ears and singing, La, la, la, la, la . . . I’m not listening to You, God! But the stirring in my heart wouldn’t stop.

I decided to try a new tactic with Him. Lord, I just came here tonight to bring my girls to a simple little cultural event. I’m not looking for a major life change. My life is already very full with speaking and writing and homeschooling three girls. Besides, all my friends would think I was crazy, and my husband would never think this is a good idea.

But God wasn’t discouraged by my response. His directive in my heart became more intense as the evening went on. After the concert, I asked the coordinator of the event which of the boys still needed homes so I could pray for them. He told me that eight of the boys still needed to find families and encouraged me to walk into the reception area where they were. If God intended for some of these boys to be ours, he was sure I’d know it.

Reluctantly, I walked into the reception area. In a matter of seconds, Jackson and Mark walked up to me, wrapped their arms around me, and called me Mom.

I was moved and terrified at the same time.

What began as a small heart prompting had turned into a very big decision for our family to make.

After talking with Art, we cried out to God, desperate for His guidance and wisdom. We pondered every aspect and wrestled with this decision deep in our spirits.

Still, doubts and questions flooded our minds: How could we financially increase the size of our family? How would we find the time in our already crammed schedule? How would we raise boys? How would we find room in our home? The list went on and on.

One day, I called my friend and poured out my heart. I told her I could list off many other parents who I felt were much more qualified than us. She patiently listened without much response as I asked, “Why me?”

Then quietly and prayerfully she answered. “Because God knew you’d say yes, Lysa.”

I was stunned. It was the highest compliment I’d ever received. My heart was filled with joy as memories filled my mind of the years of small steps God had me take to get me to the place where I could be prepared to take this much bigger step.

Now, over ten years later, I think back to me sitting in that church pew, just going about my ordinary life when God’s extraordinary invitation burst forth. I could have so easily walked out of that church and ignored God’s stirring. I’ve done that more times than I’d like to admit. But look at everything we would have missed out on had I done that.

TerKeurst Family

Hear my heart: I’m not saying that everyone is called to adopt. But each day we can look for His invitation to leave our plans behind to join Him in His wondrous work through our own unique small steps of obedience.

What if the next big step God wants you to take is actually small?

Remember, my big step of faith came after years of taking small steps of faith. But no matter where you are or what God has called you to, you can take the first step. Find out more in our next FREE online Bible study of my book, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith. Sign up today.

I’m giving away 10 copies of What Happens When Women Walk in Faith today on the blog to help you get ready for the study. To be entered to win, leave a comment below telling me what small step you’re going to take this week.

3.26.2015

What if the Next Big Step God Wants You to Take is Actually Small?

Do you ever feel called to do something greater and more fulfilling for God, but can’t figure out where to start?

Or maybe you scroll through social media, seeing how God is using others and wonder if it’s too late for you?

Don’t believe that lie! God has powerful plans for each of our lives – we just have to be willing to take the first step.

So let me ask you a question: What if the next big step God wants you to take is actually small?

God may eventually ask you to take a leap of faith. But I believe there are some small steps that come first. And I can’t wait to show you what they are.

That’s why I’ve put together “A Guide to Stepping Out in Faith.” It’s based on the five phases of faith that many Biblical characters went through when they followed hard after God.

A Guide to Stepping Out in Faith

You can get your guide today for FREE by clicking here.

I can’t wait to take this journey with you!

3.23.2015

Stop Asking God to Speak and Start Praying for Better Ears

Have you ever found yourself frustrated because it seems like God’s not speaking to you? I know. It’s hard. But I’m so challenged by this thought from my friend, Jeff Goins… What if God is already speaking, but we just aren’t in tune with His voice? Jeff is guest posting more about this on the blog today. Take it away, Jeff…

I don’t know about you, but I wish God would just speak to me. Oh, I know. He speaks through Scripture and community and as a still small voice in my soul. I get that. But sometimes I just wish the clouds would part, a shining light would drop down from the heavens, and the booming voice of the Almighty would speak.

Is that too much to ask?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes for these things. But I wonder if God did speak to us, if He called us in the way that we expected, if we would really listen. In fact, I have good reason to believe that we wouldn’t.

Three thousand years ago, four or five miles northwest of Jerusalem in the hill country of Ephraim, there was a small town called Ramah, where a man named Elkanah lived. He had two wives, one who was infertile and the other who reminded her of this constantly.

Once during a trip to the ancient city of Shiloh, the barren wife Hannah was so plagued with shame that she made a public vow. If she would become pregnant, she would give her son to the high priest, dedicating his life to religious service. Shortly after, she conceived a son and named him Samuel. As soon as he was weaned, he was sent to Shiloh to serve the priest Eli.

Samuel was a special boy, a gift to his parents who long awaited his birth and a gift to Eli who only had disobedient sons. He served the priest in the work that he did, and the older man groomed him for a promising future.

One night, after months if not years of service, Samuel awoke before dawn. Startling awake, he sat up in bed and looked around.

Nothing.

He swore he’d heard somebody whispering his name. But no one was there. Settling back into bed, the boy fell asleep only to be awakened again a few seconds later. This time, he was sure; it was a voice.

“Here I am!” he shouted back. No answer. Running into Eli’s room, he shouted, “Here I am; you called me.”

Eli rose out of bed, squinting his eyes, which were beginning to fail him.

“I did not call,” he said, confused. “Go back and lie down.”

Samuel was confused as well, but he did not want to argue with his master. So he returned to his room and slowly laid his head back down. He forced his eyes shut, too anxious to sleep. For what seemed like hours but in reality was only a few minutes, Samuel lay in bed. Then as his eyelids began to grow heavy, he heard it again, just as quiet as before but persistent as ever.

“Samuel . . .”

He shot up in bed, his heart racing. He called his master while once again rushing into Eli’s room. Again, the two were equally confused.

“My son,” Eli said. “I did not call. Go back and lie down.”

But before Samuel could even put his head down on the pillow, he heard the voice again, even louder than before. He got up again and called to Eli, his voice quivering with fear.

But the master’s response was different this time. He told the boy to stop calling and instead to listen, giving him six words to say. So Samuel returned to bed and listened. When he heard the call a final time, he responded:

“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And with those words, his life was never the same. How the boy heard and answered that call led to many significant events in Israel’s history, including the anointing of two kings, one who became the most famous the country would ever know. Samuel was called, and he answered.

But the scary part — the part we should pay attention to — is that he almost missed it.

The truth, I think, is that God is speaking. We just struggle to listen. And sometimes we mistakenly believe that calling is about listening. But what if it was more about learning to hear? What if God was already speaking, but we just weren’t in tune with His voice?

When we look at the call of Samuel, we see a similar process. It’s not just enough to listen. You have to put yourself in a posture to hear in the first place. And that choice is actually three choices:

1. Be still.
God’s call tends to not come in the midst of noise and chaos. It often arrives when we are quiet — late at night or early in the morning or maybe in the middle of the day. Or perhaps, those are just the times when we can hear.

2. Ask for help.
God’s call is not just personal. Moses had Aaron and Miriam. Jesus had the inner circle on the Mount of Transfiguration. It may come in private but it’s confirmed in community.

3. Say yes.
I know it sounds simplistic, but God will only push us so far when we say no. He is looking for us to invite Him deeper into our lives. Yes, He’s calling, but it’s up to you to respond.

That’s what I learned once I answered my call to be a writer. I realized in His own way, God had been calling me to this vocation my whole life. I just lacked the ability to discern the message. And the truth is it took a team of mentors and a discovery process, not a single epiphany, to finally figure out what I was meant to do.

Maybe the same will be true for you, too.

TheArtofWork_hirez Jeff Goins is the author of four books including his latest, The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. Jeff’s new book will help you make sense of your life, understand how a calling works, and what the next step is. Find out more here.

Today, we’re giving away 10 copies of The Art of Work right here on the blog! Just leave a comment below with which of the 3 choices you’re going to focus on this week to listen for God’s voice.