Tag Archives: faith

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!


A Toothache, Tylenol, and Wise Words from Mom

I recently saw a sign that read, “If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your mom told you to in the first place.” This is so true! And my mom is the wisest person I know. (She just is, and if you think yours is wiser, well you’re just wrong. You can ask my brother and sister.)  And so in honor of Mother’s Day, I want to share a little of her wisdom with you:

So – a week ago I had a tooth pulled. It hurt! It’s a week later – it hurts worse than ever. Saturday was one of the first Saturdays in a very long time that I could “sleep in” but I was up, showered and ready for the day by 7:30 a.m. Why? It wasn’t because I was feeling particularly ambitious, but rather because I couldn’t sleep anyway due to a throbbing toothache. I had pain medication that kept it somewhat at bay. I had also tried icing my face and toothache drops, and Tylenol, but nothing seemed to help. By 2:30 on Monday I finally decided to call back to the oral surgeon for some much needed pain relief. So, back to Ames I went to find out I had “dry socket”. toothache
Pain is a really amazing invention. It’s our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and in need of attention. But why is it so hard to call on the one that can help the most with the discomfort we are experiencing?

This whole episode sort of reminds me of how we deal with pain and difficulties in our daily lives. We struggle and struggle and try to ease the pain or fix the problem on our own. All the while, God is waiting with open arms for us to run to Him. He is the one we should seek. He is the one that can bring healing. He is where we will find comfort and rest. For my toothache, I needed to seek help from the surgeon, but for the difficulties I face as I live out my life – I need to run to God and He will wrap me in His arms and give me comfort and healing and satisfy all my needs.


The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Until next time, may you find comfort and joy in Him even in the times of trial and pain.
Be blessed!
Judy Cleveland

Not only is my mom full of wise words, but she’s also tough as nails. (I spoke to her several times during this incident and she never said a word about the pain.) Her experience with pain and delay in calling the doctor got me thinking about how I handle my own hurts. Why is it that at times I’m so hesitant to let God know about my pain? When He’s the ultimate healer and source of all comfort, why do I resist letting Him into the wounded areas of my life? Is it pride? Is it fear? Is it stubbornness? Is it lack of trust that He’ll meet me in the hurt? Is it that I’m blaming Him for the pain? Do I question if He really cares?

I don’t need to wonder, Scripture is clear that as a loving father, God does care and does want to comfort. God just doesn’t always provide the answer or the comfort in the way I want Him to. Here’s the rest of the story. After a trip back to the doctor, my mom was told that her tooth was healing, but was simply going to hurt through the healing process. She was comforted to know there wasn’t any additional problems, but the pain remains. Sometimes God doesn’t comfort by taking away the pain, but by assuring us that it will get better in time. Really, that’s what good parents do. They don’t always take the pain away from their children, at least mine didn’t! And it is in those moments that I find I grow, become stronger, and mature the most. And as His beloved child, God wants what is best for me, even if it means experiencing some pain! And He wants to walk with me through the painful times. I need trust Him with my pain and receive His comfort, even if it isn’t the kind of comfort I want!

Lessons from “A League of their Own”


A League of Their Own has always been one of my favorite movies. Tom Hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, a washed up former Major League ball player whose career was cut short by his own drinking problem. He’s given one last shot at a career in baseball when he’s offered a position as manager of the Rockford Peaches, a team in the newly formed All American Girls Baseball League. Gina Davis plays Dottie Hinson, the catcher for the Peaches and the best player in the league. When her husband returns from the war, Dottie decides to quit just before the playoffs are set to begin. In my favorite scene, as Dottie is about to leave the team, Jimmy looks at her and says, “I never thought of you as a quitter. Baseball gets inside of you. It’s what lights you up.” Dottie responds with, “It just got too hard.” Jimmy replies with, “It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.”

So often I avoid doing things that seem “too hard.” I fail to remember that “the hard” is what makes it great. And more importantly, “the hard” is what makes God great. If I never choose to do hard things that stretch me beyond my own gifts, talents, and abilities, I’ll never tap into the power of the living God in me – the same power that gave sight to the blind, calmed the sea, and raised the dead. I’m called to do hard things so that my name becomes less and God’s name becomes more. It’s supposed to be hard so I’m forced to rely on God. I’m forced into a place of trust and dependence on His strength and power. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” And the more I learn to lean on God and trust in Him, the more my faith grows. The more my faith grows, the more God “gets inside of me” and “lights me up inside.”

There’s no doubt that taking the risk to do something beyond my own ability is scary. Trusting God takes courage. However, God knows what He is doing! Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God knows more than we do. He is a good God. He can be trusted. Yes, it is difficult to risk failure by stepping out in faith to do the hard things that God may call us to, but it isn’t really our reputation on the line. It is God’s! If we follow God’s lead, we can’t fail! And remember, any success we experience is really God’s victory, not ours. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” In our fragile and weak moments, God’s power is able to shine all the more.

Where my abilities end, God’s begin.

When I am incompetent, God is competent.

When I am incapable, God is more than able.

When I am weak, God is strong.

When I am fearful, God is bold and courageous.

When I tend to back down, God is more than a conqueror.

When I am powerless, God is powerful.

When I’m ready to quit, God “lights me up inside” and provides the hope and passion to persevere.

What “hard thing” might God be calling you to do? And what obstacles keep you from stepping out in faith?