Re-focus

One of my new favorite things isportrait mode on my iPhone X. I love the way it focuses on a specific thing while blurring out the background. It’s especially great when taking pictures in a dirty house. The only downfall to this glorious technology is its inability to always focus on the right thing. I’ve often missed some real Kodak moments per se because my camera focused on the wrong image, blurring out what I intended to fix my focus on.

Example: The kids and I ran down to the creek today, and I was trying to focus the camera to grab a picture of our German Shorthair playing in the water, only it focused on the water and not my dog! Yes, they were both parts of the picture, but the important part, my dog, was the part that wound up blurry and distorted. The focus was on all the wrong things.

As I was thinking about what to write to you today, God reminded me of this truth: In light of eternity, does this really matter? His whisper challenged me to refocus. It caused me to notice that my focus is obscure; it’s been fixed on all the wrong things. My lack of focus has potentially caused me to miss some incredible moments. And maybe this is you today. Maybe there are some things you’ve been so focused on: work, fitness, finances, business, etc. that you have missed opportunities to glorify God in your life and to others. After all, in light of eternity, does it really matter how much money you’re bringing home, what size jeans you wear or how many abs you can count? Or if your child plays for a traveling ball team or a city league? What truly matters is whether you’re glorifying God; that’s why He created you. You are made for Him, and to lead people toward Him.

So, how are you doing? Where’s your focus? Are you stressed out trying to figure out this crazy life? Are you worn out? Burned out? If that’s you, maybe it’s time to fix your focus. Turn your focus back to our creator, the one who made us on purpose and with purpose. The one who loved us enough to send His son to die for us, the one who then sent a comforter to live inside of us, leading and guiding us. The one who paid it all so we could live an eternity with Him. Perhaps, my friend, you need to refocus.

And yet, there is another pit we fall into: What about those of us who are getting up every day with our intentions to serve in work, ministry, and our callings. Or those of us who are knee deep in His dream for us. We know ourwhy, but perhaps we’ve lost focus on it? Is it possible we’ve been focusing so much on self trying to make it all happen that we’ve lost our focus on who it’s for? We’ve placed self and the glory we gain in the process above the real focus, God’s glory. Y’all, I’m guilty far too often. And I think it’s time to refocus; remember the why behind what we do. The why should be the same for us all; to bring glory to our great God and lead others to Him. Heavy thought here, but People’s eternity depends on our focus. If leading people closer to Jesus isn’t your why, It may be time to fix your focus. Allow Him to guide you and your focus back to Him.

So whatever your focus is today: self, business, others opinions, your body, ministry, etc., let’s take a moment and ask God, in light of eternity, does THIS really matter? Fix your focus.

“Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you gave him authority over all flesh, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent — Jesus Christ. I have glorified you on the earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17:1-4‬ ‭CSB‬‬

That Kind of Love

I’m sure I know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask it anyway: Have you ever experienced a time in your life where you felt like your world was crashing and all H-E-double-hockey-sticks was breaking loose in your life? I’m assuming your answer is yes (me too, by the way). And if your answer is no, you’re likely too young to be reading this, or you need to check your pulse.

This was me a few months back. I was so hurt and frustrated by some situations and people in my life, and a poor, dear, soul of a friend had to experience my meltdown over the phone. I really do feel for her now, that was a rough day for both of us.

But seriously, we all have those days that seem like they couldn’t possibly get worse. Maybe you’ve lost your job, or someone you love has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. Perhaps your spouse has just walked away from a marriage you thought was solid. Or maybe you’ve just discovered the addiction your child has been hiding. These are some of the worst things imaginable, right? But what if, you’ve been sent as a sacrifice for all humanity? What if, you’ve never done a thing wrong in all your life, but was sent to die a brutal death for a world full of sinners: rapists and murderers, human traffickers and cheaters, addicts and liars?

I’m so thankful God hasn’t asked such a thing of me. But He did send his son, Jesus, precisely for that reason. And I imagine, if I had been Jesus, I would’ve been on the horn (a phone, for all you youngsters) with all my peeps losing my mind over the day I was having! You know, similar to how I responded to my situation a few months back, but on a MUCH larger scale.

But, thank God, He chose Jesus instead. And I assure you, Jesus was a way better option than me. He wasn’t calling His bestie (John, the one Jesus loved) and complaining about the day He was having or texting His disciples asking for advice on how to dissolve the situation. Jesus was more concerned about his friends, the disciples, leading up to His arrest and execution than He was about himself. Jesus was more focused on you and on me than the imminent death He was facing. Several times before He was arrested, He urged the disciples to:

1. Believe in Him.
2. Not let their hearts be troubled.

Jesus cared more for His friends than He did for His life. Even though they would betray him, deny him, and scatter out of fear for being associated with him (sounds a bit like you and I at times). And this got me thinking about the kind of love that must be. The type of love He was extending to a rough group of friends, the kind of love He was extending to those whose sin was the reason for His existence. The type of love He has for you and for me, the ones whose sin nailed Him to the cross.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Love is what keeps us grounded when all hell is breaking loose in our life. Love is what causes us to forgive those who wrong us and pray for those who persecute us. And love is what held Jesus to a cross.

Friend, we are going to face times of hurt, frustration, meltdowns, bad days and worse days, but may we be careful not to neglect love for one another and never take for granted the love Jesus poured out for us on the cross. Believe in him and do not let your hearts be troubled (Jn 14:1). The savior has come and overcame, and He did it for you.

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Sawdust Brownies

Cassie, have you tried these brownies? They are delicious. That was a lie straight out of my dear friends’ pie hole. Faith seems all sweet on the outside, but inside she is full of jokes and evil tricks, such as getting me to eat what I now call sawdust brownies. And I’m not lying when I say it took me ten minutes to chew and swallow that brownie. It literally tasted and felt like someone had poured sawdust right into my mouth. WORST. BROWNIE. EVER.

Just a side note here – Yes, I actually know what sawdust tastes like. I grew up in a family of saw-millers and construction workers. And those brownies may have looked good, but I assure you, they were NOT good.

Earlier this week, I started a Bible plan on the Bible app with a group of ladies. Just a way to further and create community among my sisters in Christ, and it was incredible. Ladies were opening up and sharing about things to women they didn’t even know. It was absolutely beautiful. But during the plan, there was one verse and thought that really stood out to me: there is no substitute for the presence of God.

Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer. Psalm 27:4 (TPT)

And that’s where the sawdust brownies come into play. Them there brownies looked incredible (I felt the need to use my best Carter County sawmill voice). They were everything you dream a brownie should look like, but someone had the bright idea they also needed to be healthy. YUK! Y’all, I don’t do healthy, I do tasty. Those brownies were lacking the latter. Anyways, whoever had made the brownies went to extremes to substitute all the goodness in the brownies with things like black beans, and gluten-free sawdust, I mean flour. But in the process of substitution, they sucked the goodness right out of them there brownies! But isn’t that what we do spiritually?

God has given us himself, everything we need to feel satisfied and fulfilled, yet we run to substitutions for our fulfillment. We feel alone in our relationship, so we stay up all night watching unrealistic Netflix romances or looking at pornography trying to fill the void, only building up more walls in our relationship. We struggle in our finances, so we go shopping to make us feel better for a moment, only digging ourselves deeper into debt. We feel empty and worthless, so we try and find our worth on social media, just to see that everyone else’s perfect Instagram is better than ours, sending us into a more profound depression and self-hate.

Do you see the cycle? When we start substituting God for idols, we lose. We lose our spouse, our friends, our homes, our worth, our faith. There is no substitute for Jesus in our life any more than there is a substitute for brownies.  You can run as fast and as hard as you want from the presence of God, but you will never be fulfilled, and you will never be free.

So I ask you, what are some areas of your life that you need to replace the sawdust with sugar? What have you been using as a substitute for your relationship with Christ? I pray that God searches your heart today and reveals to you the places you keep hidden. Friend, I believe in you and Jesus is waiting for you. Now go, and take back your life today.

P.S. – Shout out to my sweet friend and editor, Faith Schweizer. She is absolutely incredible and such an asset to this ministry and my life. (And if you’ve never heard her sing, you should! Go check her out on iTunes.) Thank you, Faither, for EVERYTHING!

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Tantrums and Testimonies

I marched, or rather, stomped down the stairs; it was somewhere between a two-year-old tantrum and an I love Jesus stomp. I was frustrated and tired, and they needed to know it.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the power of our words. How we can speak life and death into ourselves, our neighbors, and situations. But this week I want to focus on the other side of that thought, our deeds.

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:17

Did you catch that BIG word in the text? Representative. When God caused me to remember this scripture after my tantrum, I read it in a few different versions to get the full effect. This version spoke loud and clear to this girl. Not only are we to represent Jesus well, with our words, but also with our actions. Ouch!

There are MANY times where I manage to hold my tongue, but my face says everything my tongue isn’t. Example: A few weeks ago someone said something to me that frustrated me. I felt like they were a little harsh and out of bounds and while my words were kind, my face said everything I was thinking. After a bit, they apologized, but I needed to also. While I didn’t SAY anything wrong, my deeds were wrong.

What’s the point, Cassie? Well, the purpose is, we represent Jesus not just with our words but also in our actions. You may say all the right things, but if we don’t support our words with our body language too, well, we might as well say what we’re thinking.

So back to my tantrum. Dustin and I had a weekend away for our anniversary, and while away we ran into issues at the airbnb we had booked. ALL of our neighbors were super loud and very disrespectful of us old people trying to sleep before our long drive home the next day. I was super frustrated and even messaged the owner asking if there was anything she could do with no response (making me more frustrated). So trying to practice what I preached I chose not to say a word. How Christian of me, right? Well, not exactly. Instead, I waited till 6:30 am and was LESS than quiet as I packed and prepared to leave that morning. Leading to the stomping of stairs on my way out, hoping it disturbed them. I know, I know. No need to judge me, I’ve already repented.

While in my mind I had every right to stomp down the stairs, the truth is I wasn’t representing my Jesus very well. If those people didn’t know Jesus, I guarantee I didn’t help them find him.

So how are you representing Jesus? Are you doing it in word, but not deed? Or maybe in action, but not in word? They must go hand in hand. When we learn to represent Him well, we will reach more people and change more lives. Let’s not be the reason someone runs from Jesus, rather than to Him.

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Eyes Wide Shut

A couple two or three years ago my pastor taught a message called I see what I see, but it’s not what I hear. This sermon was one of those messages that I have clung to throughout my faith journey since then. I can’t remember specifics about the sermon, or even what scripture he used that day. All I can remember is the meaning of the message.

Often it’s so easy to look around and see what going on and lack the faith to believe for what God has spoken to us.  Maybe God has whispered promotion to you, but all you see is set back. Perhaps He’s said healing, and you see weakness. Maybe it’s a big dream He’s been whispering, and all you see are one giant after another standing in your way. Been there, still there, so if you get nothing else out of this devotion, get this; you are not alone.

One of my favorite scriptures that I continuously use to remind myself of this thought is found in Habakkuk 2:3, For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.

Whatever God has spoken to you and over your life WILL come to pass. It may not look like it, feel like it, and it may not happen when we believe it should, but it will happen. Look at some of our heroes in the faith. Moses heard promise land but saw the Red Sea, David heard Kingship but saw a field full of sheep, and Joshua heard victory but saw the walls of Jericho.

I may never understand all of God’s ways, but I choose to TRUST His voice. I may not like what I see, but I will decide to believe what He said.  Whatever you may be seeing today, the good, the bad, or the ugly; my prayer for you is this, that you not set your heart on the sight but rather on the sound. May we look ahead with eyes wide shut.

I see what I see, but it’s not what I hear-Pastor Beau Norman

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