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fearless

It is officially 35 sleeps till Christmas.   Or as my husband texted me on Wednesday, 5 Mondays.

Yikes.

That seems way too close.

 

One of the things I love about Christmas apart from the fact that we are celebrating the wonder and glory that Jesus, the King of the Universe, the Lord of Lords, Creator God stepped out of glory and into humanity, taking on the form of a tiny baby born in obscurity, born to live a perfect life, born to die a horrendous death, born to make a way for us to be saved and rescued, is the family traditions.

Every Christmas Eve after we get home from the Christmas Eve service our family open one present.  And it is …. New PJS!  Which means we have cute photos the next day!

 

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Every family has its traditions but a big one is the Christmas meal.   Some do the lunch, some do the dinner, some do the mid afternoon whatever you would call it.   And isn’t there something special about Christmas food.  Even if you eat it at other times in the year, it feels more wonderful and delicious because its Christmas.

When I married Tony I didn’t realise that I married a Christmas foodie family.  My family were always yummy but pretty standard.  We embraced the kiwi summer effect and usually had a roast chicken and veges for lunch, followed by pav and strawberries, every year and then left overs and bbq for dinner.   Tony’s sister however goes all out.  It’s the turkey and the ham, the exotic salads and roast veges and 4 types of stuffing and the sauces and the graveys.   It takes all day and everyone does something.    Now I confess I feel very out of my depth in the kitchen on Christmas Day when we all get together.    So I’m allocated to bring strawberries, dairy free icecream, and pigs in blankets.  For those that don’t know pigs in blankets are mini sausages wrapped in bacon.  That’s my job every Christmas.    And on the day we all bring to the table our creations, fancy or simple, and we eat until we feel like we’ll sleep for a week and bring on new years resolutions!   Whose with me?

 

Imagine Church like that Christmas Day feast.   Imagine if we all brought our best dish to the table, every week.    Or imagine if we expected one person to do all the cooking while the rest of us kicked back and watched another rerun of snoopys christmas?

We all have something to give, something to contribute and without your dish, something is missing, the feast is incomplete.

Now also, think about this.  Who is the feast for?  The feast is for us, yes.  We come and are fed, nourished.  But the feast is for the lost.  This is God’s number one priority.  That the lost are saved, that the lost come and know how great God is, that He is real and that He has the power they need, not just for eternity but for now.  The world needs the feast we serve, need what we offer.  They need what you offer.

 

But often we can feel like I do on Christmas Day.  Inadequate and that what I bring to the table isn’t flash or fancy or something other than what it is.   Sometimes I feel unsure if what I’m bringing is enough, or will be good enough.   I fight comparison and insecurity, yes over a Christmas dinner!

We’ve been talking about being a family and that we all have a role to play, all have a dish to bring,  but sometimes we can feel like we don’t know what our place is, where we fit and what we can offer.

 

So this morning we’re going to pull it back to the micro, we’re going to look at YOU and ME, as individuals and discovering our passions and purposes.

When we find out who we are, how God has wired us, we can then bring our best dish, every week, with confidence and grace.

 

In John 6:1-15 we read about one boy who brought his dish to the table and it was used in extraordinary ways to feed a multitude of people.  God loves to take ordinary people and do amazing things with them.   “Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience, doing what can seem quite ordinary, saying yes to God in all things.”

We need to get our eyes off ourselves and our sense of limitation and lift them up, as Jesus did, to the generous abundance of God, the God who created the universe, who split the sea, who knocked the walls of Jericho down with a shout, who cured lepers, gave sight to the blind, speech to the mute and life to the dead.   Our God has no limits.

2 Corinthians 4:7 says But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

So then, how do we find out what our signature dish is?   How do we find out what we are bringing to the table?

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“What will I be when I grow up” is one of THOSE questions.  Loaded.  Full of promise and potential.  Clouded in the shadows of time.  Heavy.

There seems to be so much pressure around this question.

As a child we probably all dreamed of being doctors, princesses, actors, astronauts.  There was no limitation.  I even know a child who wanted to be a dinosaur when they grew up!

When I was a child I dreamed of being a writer.  I would tap away on an old typewriter and write epic fantasy novels for fun.  In my early teens that morphed to dreams of becoming a journalist and I was privileged to have a number of articles printed in the town newspaper as part of a student contributors page.

As an older teen though and in my early 20s I felt like I lost my way in terms of that big question.  What will I do, what will I be when I grow up?

Being is the real hinge of that question.

We are human beings, not human doings.  What we do comes out of who we are.

“Being Awesome is about finding the core of who you are and what lights you up. Once you’ve discovered that, you can have a million different jobs.” ~ Jon Acuff

When you discover who you are and what lights you up your eyes become more open to the possibilities.  You see ways forward.  You make ways forward.

You flourish where you are because you’ve found your flow.

This is why I could work in a concrete company.  Not because I was passionate about concrete, but because I had discovered that people are what light me up and that job involved working with a team and connecting with people all day long.

Discover what you’re passionate about and then point yourself in a direction that empowers that to grow and flow.

What lights you up?

How can you be more awesome as that?

 

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Evangeline, my daughter, came home from school one day and nuzzled into my side and said in a small voice… this was the worst day ever…

I held her close for a moment and then asked, honey, what happened.

They made fun of my name Mum, they called me Evil Eva…

Oh.

Words can crush can’t they?

They hurt.

I got her to look up at me, into my eyes.

Remember sweetheart, when you were one day old, when God said YOU ARE DELIGHTFUL…?

Yes, I remember

That is who you are Evangeline.  You are not evil.   You are delightful.   Your name means giver of life, messenger of good news.

I know Mum.  They kept on saying it. It was hard but I kept on ignoring them.

Whose voice do you need to listen to sweetheart?

God’s voice and your voice Mum.

Such truth from my youngest. A fearless young one, learning courage and wisdom in the classroom of life.

Often we have an internal dialogue which is ripping us off and defeating us… we have an inner voice – our soul, our mind, that can depreciate our assets, rationalize a situation or just plain speaks with unbelief in our own abilities and more importantly the God we serve and that empowers us.

Lies.

Excuses.

This voice can be like the voices of my daughters classmates, telling us we are worthless when the truth is that we are very precious and God delights in us and loves us so much that He gave His only son to ransom, rescue and save us.

What shapes this voice we listen to?

  • our past
  • our parents
  • our peer groups
  • the media
  • the enemy

Our voice can often tell us that we won’t ever be able to do anything to help or be very god at anything – but God calls us his partners and calls all of us to work with Him and promises to work through us.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  ~Winston Churchill

My voices says:

  • who do you think you are?
  • no one will listen to you
  • no one wants to listen to you
  • you’re just a …
  • nothing is going to change – why bother?
  • you’re a proven failure
  • you’re not good enough
  • you’ll never be good enough

The voices in my head tell me everything that I don’t like about myself, the remind me of my flaws and failings.  They however are silent when it comes to reminding me what God says about me and His promises and unfailing faithfulness.

“Regardless of what you want to do or who you are, fear will always see you as wholly unqualified for anything you ever dream or attempt.” Jon Acuff

Fear is going to tell you you cant. It’s going to lie to you and make excuses so you stop in your tracks.

Fear and insecurity partner with the enemy to limit us and restrict us. To kill the dream.

But God is great.   He is good.

He wants us to rip that negative self talk out of our heads, to change the cd so to speak and to hear HIS voice of hope and faith and truth.

God qualifies us for anything we dream and attempt.

What does the Bible say?

Let the weak say “I am strong”

Greater is God in me that the enemy in the world

Those that know their God will be strong and do exploits

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

This is why God tells us to renew our mind, to be transformed and to fix our eyes (and ears!) upon Himself. To listen to His voice. We need to listen to the truth that God speaks. We need to listen to HIS voice in our head and hearts and let the voices in the playground fall away into silence.

There is an enemy who wants us to think we are defenceless, useless, hopeless weaklings. If he can shut us down he shuts us up.

Can we see beyond what people say about our limitations to the fact that we serve a God who doesn’t even have that word in His vocabulary? To the God whose capability doesn’t rise and fall with our own inability? Can we see beyond what people say about our dreams and plans to the God who has actually given them to us and is fully competent to bring them to pass? Steven Furtick

Become master of your own voice – take every wrong thought captive. Don’t just think and believe every thought you have. Not every thought we have is correct. This is why I think it is important to read the Bible – to learn what God says about us.

Then we can reprogram our heart and override any untruth (from the enemy or ourselves) with the truth of God.

Remember, we are loved with an everlasting love. We are children of God. Servants of God. Strong. Mighty. We carry the living God within us – a great powerful treasure in jars of mere clay. God calls us and anoints us and uses us. He works in us and through us. Despite our flaws and failings He is great and great in and through us for His glory. He chooses the weak and the foolish, the ordinary, to demonstrate His extraordinariness.

“Don’t underestimate what God can do through your life. God has a very long, proven, and consistent history of using foolish and broken things for His glory.” ~ Eugene Cho

He is our great healer, our great strength, the one who saves us.

“The best way to get rid of the negative thoughts is to crowd them out with something else bigger and more beautiful: worship of the One who holds everything in His powerful and capable hands.” ― Jocelyn Green

So how do we change the voices in our head?

Read the Word of God and transform the way you think (Romans 12:2)

Take control of the thoughts – when the lies and doubt come, change your mind, change the topic. Stop passively agreeing with the negative voices.

Replace the negative thought with a positive one. Change the tone of your thoughts.

Don’t play the victim, take control and make some changes if changes need to be made.

Find someone to encourage you, share your fear and ask for intentional help.

Analyze what you’re thinking. Is this really true?

Line a new truth up against the lie.

Give yourself grace. Remind you that God’s grace is sufficient.

“I’ve tucked those negative thoughts in a drawer, and for the most part, though I know the drawer still exists, it never gets opened.” ― K. Martin Beckner

What else do you do to stop the voices in your head dragging you down?

Who are you listening to?

"Don't compare your beginnings to someone else's middle"... keep your head up, stand tall & work hard for what you want

How Goals Can Help You Define Success – 

  1. Define your success. Let’s say you have a “priority” of family. Fine. But what relationships make up that family, and how would you define what success means for those relationships? More specifically, ifyou are married, what would having a “successful” marriage look like? What characteristics would it have? Think about it and write down your thoughts.
  2. Make an action plan. Go over what you’ve written down and be honest about what needs to take place for this success to happen. Continuing with the example of marriage, if success is defined as having clear communication, quality time, and deeper intimacy, you need to choose actions that foster the growth of those attributes. In this case, scheduled date nights, family business meetings, and other ideas specific to your marriage will make this success a reality. Be sure to communicate clearly with those who will be helping you make these changes. It is really important to have support from others. You can’t just change an important area of your life overnight.
  3. Put it on the calendar and do it. Jerry Seinfeld became a better joke writer by writing daily. To maintain discipline he used a wall calendar which has the whole year on one page and hung it on a prominent wall. After he did his work, he used a big red magic marker to mark each day he’d done his task. Can you do that? Or something similar in your own life?

 

 

How Do You Know When You’re ‘Successful?’

How do you know when you’re ‘successful?’ Is ‘success’ internal or external (i.e., a feeling or recognition)? Is it a journey or a destination (i.e., a process or an event)? Though my search for answers admittedly continues, here are three truths about success that have helped me wrap my head around the concept and be more appreciative of my own accomplishments. I hope you find these ideas helpful and encouraging too!

 

 

THE SECRET PART OF BRAVERY PEOPLE STRUGGLE WITH MOST – Michael Hyatt

Jon Acuff Explains Why We Need to Step Out When We Feel Like Holding Back

  • Bravery is a choice, not a feeling.
  • Being afraid isn’t failure, staying afraid is.
  • Bravery has two parts.

 

 

Stop Reacting and Start Responding

Virtually all of your thoughts and feelings are conditioned responses to past experiences. It’s a normal strategy for dealing with new opportunities. But if your strategy is flawed, you’ll continue to get low returns on your efforts — both in your personal and professional lives.

Eventually, something will pop up and push you out of your comfort zone. If you don’t have a strategy to deal with new challenges, it won’t be long before you buckle under the pressure.

Stop reacting and start responding.

 

 

 

FIVE POWERFUL “C’S” FOR LEADERSHIP SUCCESS – Leadership Freak

  1. Cultivation: Grow as you go, not before. Find new capacity by embracing inadequacy. Sufficiency is the enemy of growth.
  2. Curiosity: The second solution is often better than the first. But, you can’t find the second solution when you’re defending the first. Stay open minded after you find an answer.
  3. Compassion: Show compassion while getting things done.
  4. Courage. Older leaders often say, “If I had it to do again, I’d take more risks.” The fear of failure motivates. Running from discomfort is the end of achievement.
  5. Celebration: Celebrate the contribution of others. You aren’t always the smartest person in the room, regardless of how smart you think you are.

Attitude determines altitude.

Kittens

How Jimmy Fallon Catapulted To Hosting ‘The Tonight Show’ Through Exceptional Networking

In the span of about five years, Jimmy Fallon went from a “Saturday Night Live” alum unsuccessfully navigating Hollywood to a late night star to the host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” one of the most respected franchises in entertainment. It’s not by accident.

Fallon’s meteoric rise is partly due to his intense focus on developing relationships with people who could advance his career, according to Shane Snow’s book “Smartcuts” and a recent interview with the comedian.

And he proves that this type of networking doesn’t have to be some kind of Machiavellian manipulation, but rather can be based on a genuine interest in personally connecting with influencers.

 

 

 

Leader Heart

Leadership is a complicated thing.

I often get chances to speak at conferences for student ministers. I love to do them. I love to share ideas and learn from everybody. And, because I run a large ministry with many volunteers I often get questions about leading volunteers. In fact, I can’t remember a conference where I wasn’t asked about them. Furthermore, I can’t remember a conference where I wasn’t asked this specific question that gets to my point.

Here it is.

“What are some good ways I, as a leader, can value my volunteers?”

Now, this can be a great question!

But . . . this can also be a terrible question!

And there is a fine line between this being a good and bad question—that line lies at the heart of the person asking it.

 

 

MARRIAGE IN LIGHT OF FOREVER

FRANCIS AND LISA CHAN ON THE SECRET TO RELATIONAL SUCCESS

The way to have a great marriage is by not focusing on marriage.

Not the sort of advice you’ll find on a bestseller rack near you.

In their new book, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Francis and Lisa Chan set out to reframe the entire way we think about relationships, marriage, and parenting. The marriage union is great, they observe, but it’s not forever. Therefore, we must approach this sacred relationship from the zoomed-out vantage point of eternity. And when we do, it changes everything.

 

 

7 Steps To Becoming A Professional Speaker

  1. You need to start thinking of yourself as a speaker.  You must grasp the fact that you have something to say. This is a mindset shift you must go through in order to become a professional speaker.
  2. You must find your niche.  Business coach, speaker, and author, Jane Atkinson refers to this as “picking a lane.” She recommends choosing “a topic area to focus on, based on your expertise.” Don’t waffle around from one thing to the next. Finding your passion or area of interest is essential to building your speaking career. As a speaker in this area, you will be known as a subject matter expert, so it’s important you do your research and know your stuff.

 

 

1 surprising lesson about dream chasing from a Heisman Trophy winner  – Jon Acuff

The world’s ability to understand your dream is not a reflection of whether you should chase it.

The world’s ability to support your dream is not a reflection of whether you should chase it.

Throw the passes when no one is watching. Write the pages no one sees. Work through the business plans people don’t believe in yet. Hustle long before the spotlight finds you.

You don’t need the whole world on your side to create something that changes the world.

– See more at: http://acuff.me/2014/12/1-surprising-lesson-dream-chasing-heisman-trophy-winner/#more-1561

listening

Check out my latest post over at The Fearless Experiment!

 

The voices in my head tell me everything that I don’t like about myself, the remind me of my flaws and failings.  They however are silent when it comes to reminding me what God says about me and His promises and unfailing faithfulness.

“Regardless of what you want to do or who you are, fear will always see you as wholly unqualified for anything you ever dream or attempt.” Jon Acuff

Fear is going to tell you you cant. It’s going to lie to you and make excuses so you stop in your tracks.

Fear and insecurity partner with the enemy to limit us and restrict us. To kill the dream.

But God is great.   He is good.

He wants us to rip that negative self talk out of our heads, to change the cd so to speak and to hear HIS voice of hope and faith and truth.

succulents

 

An Open Letter To The Future Therapist of My Children – 

Dear therapist who will one day be counseling my children,

There are two things I need to say right out of the gate:

1. I tried my best.
2. I hope you have a sound machine.

The second point is more of a personal preference rather than a revelation. Having gone to counseling myself, I appreciate when a therapist has some sort of sound machine that makes you feel like you’re at the beach. Gentle electronic waves lapping against the shore tend to help you forget you’re actually in a strip mall off the highway, wedged between the Dollar Store and a nail salon.

 

 

THAT RELATIONSHIP WILL NOT ‘COMPLETE YOU’

If you’re at all familiar with romantic comedies of the modern era you’ve likely heard of or watched the 1996 hit film Jerry Maguire. Many of us can recall the scene when Jerry walks into the middle of a women’s “divorced and lonely group” and divulges to Dorothy how meaningless his life is without her. His speech crescendos with the words “You complete me,” finally proving to Dorothy that he loves her. The movie ends with the two living happily ever after.

If you’re anything like me, romantic stories like Jerry Maguire can lead you to start contemplating Jerry’s philosophy, thinking there’s someone out there who could “complete you.” As you look on your singleness you can feel dissatisfied and even begin thinking of yourself as a second-class citizen because you lack your true soulmate. In an attempt to fill the void you spend months, and sometimes years, searching for the mythical “one” who will supposedly meet your needs and give meaning to your life.

 

 

Do NOT work toward your dream! – Isabel Hundt

STOP working toward your dream. Instead live it today. Chose to live your dream today no matter if you have accomplished your goals or not. If your actions are no longer bringing you the results you are looking for, it is time to look at who you have to BE.

 

 

Our Children, Our Neighbors

If you asked me the single most important insight that has shaped my parenting, it would be this: Children are people.

It seems self-evident. Clearly, they have arms, legs, ears, noses and mouths—enough to qualify. But the idea of their personhood goes far beyond possessing a human body. It goes to the core of their being and speaks to their worth. Children bear the image of God, just like adults. Well, not just like adults. It is true that they are developing physically, emotionally and spiritually at a different rate than adults, but children’s intrinsic worth and dignity does not increase or decrease depending on the rate or extent of their development. As Dr. Seuss has famously noted, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

 

 

 

 

Start is one of those loaded words in my life.

Like CONSTANT.  and OTHERS.  (think LOST)

 

Start is a book by Jon Acuff that revolutionised the way I live and think about living.  

I loved it so much that I made it required reading for our SAS course at The River.  

 

There are only two paths in life: average and awesome. The average path is easy because all you have to do is nothing. The awesome path is more challenging, because things like fear only bother you when you do work that matters. The good news is Start gives readers practical, honest, actionable insights to be more awesome, more often.

It’s time to punch fear in the face, escape average, and do work that matters. // Jon Acuff

 

Start is a bit like a travel guide into the unknown lands of adventure.  

It gives you scaffolds as you step out into new seasons and reminds you over and over again that to grow we must start.

It kicks fear and passiveness in the butt and ignites a spark for more.

 

More begins today.

When we start anything is possible.

 

I love the ad above.  Its for a telecommunications company here in New Zealand going through a rebrand.  Starting again.

It almost mirrors some of the stages Jon talks about in START.  Learning.  Editing.  Mastering.

 

Starting is the single most greatest force in the universe.

Start your big bang.

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i’ve had some unexpected FROZEN time… aka Evangeline has had the flu last week (thankfully not the dreaded vomit bug that has gone around our mums group!) and so we’ve had lots of snuggle time and watched Frozen at least 3 times.  it may be 4.  good thing i love it.  i think i have a Kristof crush.

 

 

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have been loving this series by Elevation Church (Steven Furtick) called Crash The Chatterbox.  Our Mumstime group have been watching the church series in our morning group and then we have started watching it, and the dvd series, in alternative weeks, at the best housegroup in the world.   Steven is an engaging preacher and both groups have taken away massive amounts of challenge and encouragement.

 

 

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it was my birthday last week and so i made cake for housegroup – its a tradition – everyone gets a cake for their birthday at housegroup (i make a lot of cake!)

but it was lovely to be sung to and feel the love!  and eat the delish LOVE CAKE – gluten / dairy / egg / nut free – but taste full!

 

 

 

 

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check out the right hand side… yes thats us in the small box… that’s my SAS peeps (and me!) skyping JON ACUFF, author of START – our required reading for Term 2.  that was our tuesday.  Jon is funny, insightful, wise, and the skype session was perfect.  yes really.   I’ll tell you more about it #soon.

 

 

also loving:

lip syncing battles with jimmy fallon

SAS

GF cocktail sausages – nom nom (another sick day tradition)

flower girl dresses

ugg boots

 

 

 

and as always.  i love Jesus with all i am and all my heart and all my soul and all my days. For His glory and the building of His kingdom and the rescue of the lost.

 

 

so what are you totally loving this week?

… check out what other peeps are loving whatever day of the week it is over at MNM’s BLOG

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I am NOT a morning person.

Perhaps that is partly because I’m not a good night person.  I don’t sleep when normal people sleep.

I have a second life sometimes, in the dark hours, the small hours.

For the last 15 years, or more, I’ve had a sleep disorder.  It’s been a battle.  I reclaimed the night and made use of the awake time, listening to podcasts, feeding my mind and soul.

 

 

But this year I made some changes.  I was taking back the night.  And taking back the day.

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