Finding Your Voice

Finding Your Voice, Possessing God's Promises

I Dare You To Move


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I had an unexpectedly busy Thanksgiving vacation. I went home to Florida for 10 days of rest, reflection, and celebration of the many blessings of 2018. But God had different plans. I went from preaching one sermon to preaching three sermons in 10 days. 

A few weeks before I went home, the senior pastor at my mom’s church, Centro Cristiano Hispano (CCH), asked me to preach on Thanksgiving morning for the sunrise service. 

Since the beginning of October, God stirred a word in my spirit about hospitality, so I decided to lean into the stirring and preach on the theme of hospitality. As I prepared the message, about a week before I left Boston, I felt an overwhelming impression, that I needed to preach this sermon in Spanish. 

Two important facts you need to know about me: 

  1. I’ve been preaching since I was 20 (I’m 32 now) and EVERY sermon I’ve ever preached has been in English. (When I was 20, my first English sermon was actually at CCH)
  2. Two years ago, I wrote a single-sentence entry in my journal: “Before you open your church, you will preach your first sermon in Spanish.”

Preaching in English is in the sweet spot of my spiritual giftings, but preaching in Spanish has not been something I’ve been atrevida (daring in Spanish) enough to attempt.

But I couldn’t ignore this overwhelming impression.

The night before Thanksgiving came. I was finalizing the message by translating my English notes into Spanish, deleting all the English from my notes, and practicing saying the words outloud in Spanish. 

When I spoke to the Pastor, who normally interprets for me, he asked me if I needed him, and I said no I’m doing it in Spanish today. He asked again. “No, I need to do this on my own.” 

And just like that, 35 minutes later, I preached my first Spanish sermon on Thanksgiving from the same altar I preached my first sermon ever 12 years ago. 

Did I make mistakes? Absolutely. 

Did I make up words? Most likely. 

Did the message on hospitality get communicated? Absolutely. 

Then, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was asked to preach the same sermon again that afternoon at another church. Then, after I preached that Sunday afternoon, I was asked to preach a sermon to youth group at CCH on the following Wednesday. 

Three sermons in ten days.

I expected to preach one sermon. But God did what God does and multiplied the opportunities for me to serve Him. 

I’m confident that part of the multiplication happened, because of my willingness to respond to the overwhelming impression to do something I had never done before. To preach in Spanish. To be obedient to the Spirit of God and jump into the deep end with no one there to interpret for me, except the Spirit. To make a move. 

I didn’t question the overwhelming impression. I didn’t ask God for confirmation. I didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion. I moved. 

I want to share about the theme of hospitality with you all, because I believe there’s a prophetic instruction that God is giving us for the times we are living. 

But before we can respond to that instruction, I wanted to share with you this story of responding to God’s instructions. I wanted to encourage you to start making moves. 

God has given a living Word, called the Bible, filled with instructions on living an extraordinary and abundant life. God has given us the Spirit to lead us with instructions on living life to the fullness of our potential. We’ve got some great starting places for God’s instructions. 

But, so often, we hesitate to move. We make moving this hyper-spiritual thing, where we need an angel to appear in our living room telling us to move. We need someone to speak prophetically over us. We look at the story of Gideon and think we need to throw out a fleece again and again before we’ll ever make a move. 

While we wait to make moves, we miss opportunities to experience God moving. 

What if we lived a life of true faith that meant we didn’t try to coerce God through superstitious actions? 

What if we dared to move freely without fearing whether the move is the right move? 

I dare you to move. 

Here’s some encouragement from one of my favorite songs by Switchfoot: “Dare You to Move”

In the tension together, 

sg

Questions to ponder: 

  • What’s one thing that God has already instructed you to do that you haven’t done? 
  • What’s one step you can take to do that thing before the end of the year? 
Possessing God's Promises

Possessing God’s Promises // Part 1


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God says: “I’m your refuge and strength. You will fly, run, and walk as you wait for me. You are more than a conqueror.”

You wonder: “Okay, God these things sound nice, but how do I receive Your promises?”

Possessing God’s promises invites our proactivity.

Big Question: How do we possess God’s promises?

Short answer: We cultivate consistency in our faith, so that our beliefs align with our behaviors.

That answer, brings us to another question: How do we cultivate consistency in our faith, so that our beliefs align with our behaviors?

To explore this question, let’s look to Moses’s questions to the 12 explorers he sent into the Promised Land and how they responded to what they explored.

  1. Are the people who dwell in the land strong or weak?
  2. Are the people who dwell in the land few or many?
  3. Is the land that the people dwell in good or bad?
  4. Are the cities they dwell in camps or strongholds?
  5. Is the land rich or poor?
  6. Are there trees in it or not?

These 6 questions can be divided into 4 categories:

  1. The people
  2. The land
  3. The cities
  4. The soil

Ten of the explorers say: “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However…”

They start off with faith. And then, they interrupt their faith with a “however” or a “nevertheless.” When they say, “however/nevertheless” they limit the possibilities of God’s promise, because of the inconsistency of their faith.

Two of them have a very different response, namely Caleb. Caleb silences the limitations and inconsistencies of their faith, saying: “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” In other words, let’s possess the promise of God.

Caleb led with his faith. He didn’t allow his beliefs to be limited by the facts of what he saw or his feelings about what he saw.

This is the beginning of possessing God’s promises.

This is the beginning of cultivating consistency in our faith.

Do not allow facts or feelings to limit your faith.

Allow your faith to lead you.

This story continues as the 12 explorers respond to each of the 4 categories of questions. Their responses give us 4 proactive ways to possess God’s promises as we cultivate consistency in our faith.

Join the journey of learning to possess God’s promises!

In the tension together,

sg

P.S. To explore the story of Caleb more in-depth, stay tuned for my new book: Color Me Yellow // Finding Your Voice in the Tension between God’s Promises and their Fulfillment

Questions to Ponder:

  • What’s an area of your life where you’ve allowed facts or feelings to limit your faith?
  • What would it look like to allow your faith to lead you in that area?

Promises to Remember and Possess:

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” // Psalm 46:1

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” // Isaiah 40:31

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” // Romans 8:37-39

Finding Your Voice

An Echo of Heaven


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I sat in the back of a coffeeshop getting teary eyed. Last week, I was working on the book in coffeeshop with limited internet access. I seized the opportunity to unplug from everything. I won’t give away too much of the chapter I was writing, because I want you to experience the idea in it’s full context. But as I sat there writing with an unplugged clarity, I got teary eyed! 

Honestly, I can’t even tell you the fullness of why I got teary eyed. But what I can tell you was that in that moment I was not writing. It was as if the Holy Spirit took over my thoughts, feelings, and fingers and started typing a word of encouragement that I needed to read.

Here’s what I read:

Every mountain you climb invites you into a newly unfolding part of your story where you will face challenging and exciting new experiences. With every every mountain you climb, on this side of eternity, you experience new dimensions of God. This inevitably gives you the opportunity to experience new dimensions of your voice. As you climb the next mountain, your voice is transformed more and more into an echo of Heaven. A sound that you and the communities God has entrusted you with desperately need to hear. Climb the next mountain.

I can’t promise this paragraph will make it into the final draft of the book. Even if it does, it may go through several edits and look completely different. So, I share this with you as a rough draft of words written by the Holy Spirit.

There are ten chapters of context before this paragraph appears, so the larger implications about finding our voices in the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment are absent from these words. But there’s a word of encouragement here that I needed to read as I look out on the horizon to climb the next mountain. My prayer is that there’s a word of encouragement for you as well.

If I could characterize the season in the tension that I’ve been walking through for the past 16 months, I would call it a season where my faith grew exponentially. When I was younger, I always used to say that faith was hard for me. I used to say that it was hard for me to believe.  Maybe that was because I questioned, deconstructed, and overanalyzed everything. The truth is I still do those things, but faith and believing aren’t hard for me.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” (I preached a sermon on this verse last Sunday, that you can hear on the Radical Culture podcast soon). In this season of the tension, I have learned more about the reality of this verse. My faith has taught me that there are a lot of mountains in our lives meant to be climbed and possessed. The incredible invitation of every mountain climbing expedition is an opportunity to transformation. We accept the invitation to mountain climb through faith.

I wonder if our fears of heights, of the edge, and of the unknown, keep us from climbing the next mountain.

I wonder if the work and effort it took for us to climb just one mountain leaves us so burnt out that we spend our lives pointing to that one experience and never accept the next invitation.

I wonder if as we comfortably sit on the top of the mountain, saying “I did it!” and taking pictures, that we don’t want to risk climbing down from one mountain to climb the next mountain we see off in the distance.

I wonder if we mount up excuses after excuses – I don’t have time, I’m too old, I won’t make it through another one, etc – that we rob ourselves of the new dimensions of God and ourselves that He wants to reveal to us.

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Mount Evans, CO | 14,265 feet above sea level | 3rd highest mountain in the US | Highest paved road in the US 

Friends, set aside your fears, stop being complacent, quit being comfortable, quiet your excuses, and climb the next mountain.

There’s work to be done. The kingdom of God is at hand. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. There’s a promise that God has already given you that you have to possess.

There’s a dimension of God that you haven’t experience yet. There’s a dimension of yourself that you haven’t experienced yet.

I started to get teary eyed when I read this sentence:

As you climb the next mountain, your voice is transformed more and more into an echo of Heaven.

I want to be transformed more and more into an echo of Heaven. I want it to be said of me that my voice was an echo of Heaven.

Echo: the repetition of a sound caused by reflection of sound waves.

Finding your voice in the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment is not easy. Tension implies intensity. Mountain climbing is intense. But there’s a trail map for the tension. The trail map is the Word of God. As we follow the trail map to climb the next mountain, the Word of God becomes the guide and we learn how to understand it. We understand how to follow it so much, that our mind, heart, and soul align with its markings, paths, and coordinates. We are transformed. As we climb the next mountain, the transformation in us causes us to speak a sound that reflects the sound waves of the Savior. We become an echo of Heaven.

And here’s what’s mind-blowing to me about the grace of God. We become an echo of Heaven, not simply for ourselves, but for the communities that He has entrusted us with who desperately need to hear His echo.

Name the next mountain.

Pack your trail map.

Climb the next mountain.

Transform more and more into an echo of Heaven.

God, I present to You every life reading these words. I ask that you would empower them to turn away from fears, complacency, comfort, and excuses and turn towards your incredible invitation to climb the next mountain. Increase their faith to accept the invitation. Remind them that you are not finished with them yet. Reveal to them Your desire for them to experience new dimensions of You and of themselves. Inspire them to possess the promises you have given them. Give them a desire to immerse themselves in your Word, so that they can internalize the trail map that will guide them to possess the mountain. Transform their voices into an echo of Heaven. I bless their lives. I bless the communities you have entrusted them to steward. I bless their mountain climbing expeditions. Let them be an echo of Heaven. Let us be an echo of Heaven. In Your powerful name, Amen.

In the tension together,

sg

In the Tension

Go – Lesson #1


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God wants to use every experience of your life as a training season for His calling and vision for your life.

Our Radical Culture community is in the midst of a series entitled “Training Season” that is about that big idea. I love the ways this series is pushing me to think about the training season God has me in right now. A couple of weeks ago our Radical Culture leaders and volunteer went rock climbing and God used rock climbing to teach me a few lessons about my training season!

Over the next few days, I’ll share those lessons with you. I challenge you to learn from these lessons, but more than that to reflect on how God is training you in this season of your life for His calling and vision for  your life.

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Lesson #1: Go through the obstacles

After we were suited up with our harnesses and shoes, the instructor brought us to an area of the rock climbing center where we had the opportunity to practice on “easier” walls. (I say “easier”, because I didn’t think they were that much easier.) Rock climbing walls are color-coded and each color corresponds to a different path to the top of the wall. The first section that I climbed followed a black path. I chose this section and path, because there was an obstacle directly in the middle of the path. (I’m pretty confident that if I had never been rock climbing before, I would not have chosen to go up this section. But I had a little confidence under my harness because I had done this before!)

I like to look at the colors before I start climbing up the wall to figure out my path to get to the top. The first time I got to the obstacle in the path, I tried to get around it but couldn’t, so I fell back and started again. The second time, I decided that instead of trying to find a path to the top around the obstacle, I was going to go through the obstacle. There were places on the obstacle itself to grab with my hands and put my feet on, so I navigated the path my going through the obstacle. By going through the obstacle, I was able to get up the path so much easier than when I was trying to go around it.

In the tension between God’s promises and their fulfillment there will be moments when we don’t see a clear path. There will be obstacles. Sometimes we try to find a safe way around the obstacles. We try to find a way to avoid the obstacles. We try to find a way that may be exceedingly more complicated, but exceedingly less confrontational.

But what if the more confrontational path is the path that gets us to the promise faster? What if taking the path of more resistance, instead of the path of least resistance, actually brings us into a truer fulfillment of God’s promises? What if the going through the obstacles refines our voice, because it causes us to be more clear, more concise, and more convicted about what God has promised us?

God didn’t speak a safe promise to us.

God didn’t speak an avoidant promise to us.

God didn’t speak an confrontation-less promise to us.

The path towards finding our voice in the tension won’t be found in safety, avoidance, or less confrontation. The path towards finding our voice in the tension comes when we go through the obstacles.

In the tension together,

sg

Finding Your Voice

I’m Watching You


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Do you like group fitness classes? Be honest. Everyone in the room is watching you…judging you. Or at least that’s what you think in your head. It’s kind of intimidating. Or at the very least uncomfortable.

Over the summer, my friend asked me if I wanted to go to a kickboxing class. “Groupon has a deal!” These are code words for: “How could we not seize the opportunity at this cheap price?!” I’m always down for trying new things and to be honest, this was our second attempt at kickboxing  (ask me about that story later!), so we were determined. 

True confession: I was nervous. I don’t like group fitness classes. I like to think of myself as a strong person. I’m a doer. I’m a go-getter. Anything you can do, I can do better. I’m internally very competitive. But my left shoulder is weak (more about this in the Color Me Yellow book). That weakness means that I need to be mindful of what I do with my left arm and how I do it. So I was a little nervous about being in a group class where that weakness would be exposed. I wanted to try it out with no modifications, no special treatment, and no attention from anyone. So I foolishly didn’t tell the kickboxing coaches about my weakness. Even though my friend told me to say something. But even though I have this weakness, I didn’t want anyone to see my weakness. Maybe you can relate to that?

During the class, I was ALL IN. But the next day, I could barely get out of bed. Muscles I didn’t even know I had were sore. My left shoulder was in pain. I could barely lift my arm. We weren’t going back to the class for another week. I was thankful, because I ended up needing the whole week to recover! But my friend told me that I had to tell the coach before the next class about my left shoulder weakness.

She stood right next to me while I told the coach –  partially to make sure that I did it, but more than that to have my back throughout the class. The coach asked all the right questions about when it hurt last week. He gave me all the right instructions about making modifications to certain exercises, about being mindful of my form while I was punching the bag, and about not punching the bag too hard with my left arm.

Then my friend told me: “I’m watching you.” 5371a6bec6b42d0ca7e9f828b6194a5c1f2d006539d04fb330abb1e3f0d722aa

Well, thank you. This is reason I hate group fitness classes. I don’t want anyone watching me in my weakness! 

Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

1 Timothy 4:15

Paul writes to Timothy when he was a young pastor of a church in Ephesus. This church was originally Paul’s church and he chose to leave it to his mentee, Timothy. He must have been honored. But he also must’ve need some encouragement as a young leader. So, Paul encourages him to do three things:

# 1: Practice Certain Things

In order to serve his purpose as a pastor, he needed to practice. In the verses before, he’s already told him what to practice. Practice being confident. Practice being an example. Practice preaching and teaching the Word. Practice encouraging people. Practice mastering the excellence of your gifts.

#2: Immerse Yourself In Those Things

In the original Greek language, the idea of immersing himself was to “be IN them”. Paul wanted Timothy to be in these things so much that they absorbed him and he absorbed them. Paul encouraged him to commit to a persistent practice of certain things that would help him live out his God-designed purpose. We practice to get better at something, because we haven’t mastered it yet.

#3: Practice Those Things For ALL To SEE Your Progress

Okay, okay. Wait a second. I can get super pumped with persistent practice, Paul. But when you start to talk about doing it so that others can see it…then I start to get nervous. I start to think about group fitness classes again and how much I don’t want anyone watching me in my weakness!

Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see our weakness.

For Timothy, this meant that people would have to see him struggle with insecurity and move towards confidence. They would see him failing to be a good example for others. They would have to listen to some bad sermons. They would have to see him struggle to encourage discouraging people. They would have to watch him progress from fumbling in his gifts to mastering them.

Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see God’s strength working itself through our weakness. Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see God’s hand at work our practiced process, not just our finished product. Allowing people to see our progress means allowing people to see us as God sees us and love us as God loves us. 

And that can be terrifying. Terrifying because it means you have to be vulnerable with people about your process. The messy, disastrous process of practicing. Of being weak. Of failing. Of falling. Of becoming.

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I didn’t want my friend to watch me in my weakness. But knowing she was watching, actually challenged me to practice strengthening my weak arm with the modifications. I knew her watching me meant her watching out for me. She was cheering for me. She was supporting me. She was having my back (and my arm). She was watching out for me through the process and seeing my progress. Instead of feeling intimidated, I felt inspired. 

As people inspire us to progress, we inspire them to progress. As people watch us and watch out for us, we create the space for us to watch them and watch out for them. As people receive our vulnerability, we open our hands to receive their vulnerability. 

Seeing each other’s progress glorifies God in the process of practice. 

He’s glorified, because we are transforming as individuals into our God-designed purposes AND we are transforming into a God-designed community. A God-designed community where even though we’re all practicing and progressing through our weaknesses, we’re not doing it alone. A God-designed community where people are cheering for you, where people are supporting you, and where people have your back. A God-designed community where group fitness is actually inspiring!


Color You _____ Moments

  • What is one of your weaknesses that is hard for you to share with someone?
  • Why is it hard for you to share that weakness?
  • How would you describe a God-designed community?

If you are part of a God-designed community, I want to encourage to let others see your progress. I know it’s terrifying, but I also know that it’s inspiring.

If you aren’t part of a God-designed community, then I want to share a little bit of perspective on what Paul was telling Timothy. Timothy was the leader of his community. Paul was telling Timothy to set the standard for vulnerability. Get connected to the body of Christ, start setting the standard for vulnerability, and God will start transforming those relationships, so that His God-design comes alive.


Often times the best place to find your voice is alongside others. I’m watching you.

In the tension together,

sg