Tag Archives: beloved

When Failure Strengthens Faith


I bombed. Absolutely, positively, bombed. I had an opportunity to speak in front of a speaker’s coach at a conference. It was a simple 5 minute speech. I’ve been speaking since high school and have given hundreds of speeches. and I bombed. And I had prepared! Diligently I had poured over my words and rehearsed them countless times. This was going to be awesome! I’d deliver my speech with authority and excitement in my voice. I’d capture my audience and take them on a journey with me. Except…I bombed.

I choked.

I failed.


My nerves got the best of me. The room set up suddenly didn’t work. The kind, caring eyes of my fellow group members suddenly became judgmental (although only in my mind). My voice flattened to monotone. I fumbled with my script. I lost my place. I made every rookie mistake I thought I’d overcome over the years. It wasn’t my best. It wasn’t even my average. It wasn’t even me.

Ever have something similar happen to you?

As I headed back to my hotel room, head hung low, I couldn’t help but focus on the long list of things that had gone wrong and the opportunity it seemed I had failed to seize.

Then it hit me. I suddenly remembered the essence of the message I had attempted to communicate just moments earlier.  I am desperate for people to understand that their true worth comes from God’s love and nothing else. I was now in a position to live my message or be a hypocrite. Would I claim my identity as God’s precious and beloved daughter? Or would I continue to try to find my worth in my ability to perform and achieve? Would I rest in the reality that God (and my group members for that matter!) did not love or care about me any less because of this failure? Or would I only be satisfied once I had the approval and affirmation of others? Would I live out the truth that my value is secure in the love of my Savior? Or would I choose to chase value through worldly riches?

The former offered freedom – freedom to live boldly, love fully, and carry out God’s calling confidently. The latter seemed to offer only insecurity, disappointment, and anxiety. The former offered authenticity. The latter offered a shaky façade ready to crumble at any moment. The former offered relationship. The latter offered only isolation. The former offered community. The latter offered competition.

And so I made my choice…

I experienced 71 hours and 55 minutes of wonderful and 5 minutes of awful throughout the 72 hour conference. And yet I learned more in those miserable 5 minutes than the rest of the time combined. I have to live my message. I have to rest in the loving arms of my heavenly Father and trust that my worth and value are secure. I have to walk humbly in my own abilities and confidently stay connected to God’s strength and Spirit in me. I need to live like I really truly believe that His love for me is so great that He sacrificed His only son to be in relationship with me. That kind of love is not based on achievement or accolades or accumulation. It doesn’t increase when I do well and decrease when I do wrong. God’s love never waivers and never changes. God’s kind of love frees from prisons of performance and praise. God’s love changes lives, and changes the world.

Yes, I bombed. And it was beautiful…

th (3)

God Chooses to Adopt You

Derek and Kristen remember the moment God confirmed their call to adopt internationally. After weeks of questioning, the title of the sermon that fateful Sunday morning read, “God Adopts Us into His Family.” Seven months later, after countless prayers, fundraising, and mountains of paperwork, they received confirmation that two beautiful children awaited them in Uganda. Let me introduce you to Viola and Gideon.


The journey had just begun. It would take nearly all of their emotional, mental, and financial resources, plus 73 days in Uganda attending court hearings and completing more paperwork before Derek and Kristen could bring their children home. Despite all it took, Kristen has said, “I love that adoption is the way I became a mother.” It has been nearly two years and Viola and Gideon are happy, healthy, and secure in their forever home. They have a new sense of belonging and they have received new identities.


God uses the imagery of adoption to help us understand the relationship He offers and desires to have with us.

In Romans 8:15-17 the apostle Paul says, “You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, ‘Abba! Father!’ as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His.”

Just like Derek and Kristen chose Gideon and Viola, GOD CHOSE YOU. Derek and Kristen went to great lengths to adopt. God has gone to even greater lengths – sacrificing the son He already had in order to make us His children too. Just like Viola and Gideon could do nothing to earn or deserve their parents’ love, we can do nothing to earn God’s love and we certainly do not deserve His grace. Just like Gideon and Viola received new identities, we receive new identities in Christ. And even though Viola and Gideon are adopted, they have the same rights as a biological child. Similarly, as God’s adopted beloved children, we receive the same inheritance as Christ.

God chose to adopt us! Our worth is found in our true identity as God’s beloved children! But like Viola and Gideon were once orphans, before we accept God’s grace and love, we are spiritual orphans. If you have ever been to an orphanage, you may have noticed that after the initial shyness has worn off, the children tend to compete with one another for whatever you have to offer. As spiritual orphans, we tend to do the same thing. In fact, Henri Nouwen says that we try to earn worth through what we do, what we have, or what others say about us.

Listen, true worth is only found in receiving our identity as God’s beloved. Look at 1 John 3:1-2, which says, “Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us – He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either. My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now.”

Beloved means “dearly loved or favorite.” You are God’s favorite! So, my question is this: Are you living as a beloved child of God or are you still living with orphan mentality?


An orphan is hopeless. A daughter is hopeful. An orphan is unsure and anxious. A son is assured and confident. An orphan simply survives. A daughter thrives. An orphan competes. A son is content. An orphan has no father to provide a name and therefore creates his own identity from the outside and hopes no one finds out what is on the inside. A daughter receives her name from her daddy and confidently shares what’s inside with others.

The only source of identity and worth that truly satisfies is receiving our adoption into God’s family as His beloved child. The action step is actually not what we need to do, but what we need to stop doing. Stop trying to earn God’s love. Stop looking for worth or identity in what you do, what you have or what others say about you. Viola and Gideon are no longer nameless. They are now Viola and Gideon Kimball. Live confidently out of the name your Heavenly father has given you, the name Beloved.


Following Jesus isn’t Boring: Living life in a zoo or running wild and free?

Christians get a bad rap for being boring. Honestly I understand where it comes from. So often Christians are the ones saying no to all of the things that the world deems as fun. The focus ends up being on all of the things that Christians don’t do. They don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, and don’t watch certain films or listen to certain music. They don’t have sex or steal or party or whatever. Focus on the “don’ts”, on all of the religious stuff, and being a Christian probably does sound pretty boring. But focus on the “dos”, and being a follower of Jesus is the most exciting thing you’ll ever do.

Soren Kierkegaard actually believed that boredom is the root of all evil. I guess I can relate. Growing up in a small Midwestern farm town, high school kids seemed to get in the most trouble when they were bored. Kierkegaard argued that faith and boredom cannot coexist. He believed that if you are bored with life, then you are not living out the mission God has called you to live. Followers of Jesus are called to live by faith (define faith), which means we have to live with a certain amount of uncertainty. Following Jesus means that much of the time we may have no idea exactly where we are going. Faith may mean uncertainty but it also means adventure and it never means boredom! If your life is anything less than the greatest adventure you can imagine, then perhaps instead of following Jesus, you are actually living life expecting Jesus to follow you.


Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors. In his book, Wild Goose Chase, he asks two very intriguing questions. 1. Do churches do to people what zoos do to animals? 2. Do angels yawn? Batterson tells a story of taking a trip to the Galapagos Islands where he and his family explored and experienced wildlife in their natural habitat. He described it has exhilarating to enter into the animals’ world. Shortly after this trip, Batterson and his family went to their local zoo. Observing animals behind bars and glass was an entirely different experience altogether. There was no danger. There was no unknown. Viewing a lion in a cage is not the same as going on an African safari.


Does the church take people out of their natural environment and make them safe, tame, and caged even? As Christians, we often want to remove the risk, danger, and struggles of life. However, according to Batterson, Jesus didn’t die on a cross to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Dangerous weapons in a spiritual battle for people’s hearts, and our ammunition is faith, hope, and love.

Batterson’s second question is, “Do angels yawn?” th5RM1JJ15

Are we living such safe, boring lives that not only are we bored, but so are the angels? When we lack the faith to truly follow Jesus, wherever He dares to lead, we rob God of glory that belongs to Him. You have an adventure to live, but it requires stepping out in faith. It requires providing hope to the hopeless. It requires loving others with a supernatural love that is only possible because God loves us first.

So where do we find the courage to step out in faith, provide hope, and love deeply? It comes from the knowledge that I am God’s beloved child. The safety and security in knowing I am so loved by God that He calls me His own (and that nothing I do could ever change that fact) allows me the freedom and boldness to take great risks in life. Here’s the best part… when I’m following Jesus, it’s really not that risky at all! His love is sure and unending. His faithfulness is unwavering. He’s never failed and I do not believe He ever will. With that incredible assurance, how can we not eagerly go wherever called, no matter what the risk may seem to be? With God as our Father, how can following Him ever be boring? Get out of the zoo. The cage is already open. You just have to step out and run hard after Jesus. Live your life with fearless abandon and give your guardian angel something to do!