Footwear of Faith

Footwear of Faith
Marikina City Footwear Museum
A very small portion of the Imelda Marcos Shoe Collection

How many pairs of shoes do you personally own? Does your family jokingly refer to you as “Imelda”? Or are you a one-pair wonder who sees little point in owning more than one functional, comfortable pair of shoes? I, myself, am much closer to the one-pair wonder than Imelda Marcos (who owned more than 3000 pairs of shoes).

I tend to have one pair of shoes for every occasion: I wear flip-flops everyday🩴; tennis shoes for the gym 👟; ankle boots with my dress pants 👢; sandals in the summer 👡; heels for special occasions 👠; and winter boots when it’s cold outside❄️. Oh, I almost forgot: I also have an old pair of those “special” Sketchers® that never did firm or tone anything saggy. Oh well!

You might be wondering, “Why all this talk about shoes? I thought this was a devotional!” True. True.

Well, shoes have soles, too! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!😂 )

The truth is, as I prayed about this month’s theme of faith, God brought to my mind a few common idioms about faith, and they all involved feet! A person takes a step of faith; another is walking in faith; while someone else just book a leap of faith. Apparently, faith requires moving your proverbial feet.

Before we start selecting shoes for the journey, let’s first define what faith is and is not. In the New Testament, “faith” is an action word. And while we can easily translate the Greek noun pistis as “faith,” the English language has no way to accurately translate its verb form, pisteuein, which literally means “to faith.”

Most of the time, pisteuein is translated “to believe” which implies mere mental assent; however, it’s meaning is more complex than that. Pisteuein is an action-imperative verb which contains the concept of trust embodied in obedient action.

Just let that sink in for a moment. “Faithing” is not merely believing in something or someone: “Faithing” is demonstrating trust in something or someone through obedient action. Unfortunately, there’s no such word as “faithing” in English. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we keep this full definition of faith in mind when we read the Bible. We must remember that faith is not something you merely possess, it’s something you do. You exercise your faith through your actions. 

Understanding the meaning of pisteuein can enrich your understanding of familiar Bible passages and shed new light on them. For example, John 3:16 is typically translated “whosoever believes in Him,” but it would be better translated “all the faithing-in-Him ones.” It’s so much more than mental ascent.

Let me ask you this: Have you ever known someone (or been the person) to request prayer repeatedly for guidance on a particularly difficult decision, but the decision is never translated into action? This is indicative of a lack of faith.

In other words, merely praying without taking action is akin to buying a pair of shoes and never wearing them. It becomes a wasted opportunity and a constant reminder of what could have been. Shoes are meant to be worn, just as steps of faith are meant to be taken, not pondered forever.

When we pray about something, God will reveal next steps. He WANTS us to know His will. As Daniel 2:28 says, “There is a God in Heaven who reveals mysteries.”  He desires for us both to know His will AND to demonstrate our faith through action AND to trust His sovereignty. 

I can pray about a decision all I want; I can discuss it; I can tell everyone about it—none of this requires faith. I exercise faith when I make the decision and take the corresponding action.

“Abandoned Faith”-McFarland & Jimenez

Abandoned Faith

Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home by Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez

Over the past few years, I’ve been heartbroken to observe the turning away from faith by a few of my nieces and nephews. Although they were raised in Christian homes and stem from a strong faith heritage (my father has been a full-time pastor since 1966), they have, for all intents and purposes, rejected God. How does something like this happen? Why would a young man or woman—who was raised by Christian parents and grandparents; who was taught about God from a young age; who “invited Jesus into his/her heart” early in life; who knows how to pray; who has served when asked—turn his or her heart away from God and towards a worldview in total opposition to Him?

The truth is, most parents try to raise their children in the fear of the Lord. Unfortunately, many of these children (now adults) still turn away from Christianity.” (p. 6)

In their timely book, Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, Alex McFarland and Jason Jimenez explain what is going on, examine the root causes of this modern phenomenon, and offer valuable advice for parents, grandparents, and other adults who are deeply concerned about the choices their children and grandchildren (and nieces and nephews) are making which will affect their lives both now and eternally. While there is no official definition of the age range of millennials at this time, most demographers place their birth between the early-1980s and the mid-1990s with some extending it through the early 2000s.1

Based on well-documented research about the millennial generation and years of personal experience working with this age group, the authors present an excellent overview of what makes millennials tick, how they view the world, what it is they are seeking, and how to help them become rooted in Christ. Their insights are extremely valuable and relevant; their solutions, doable.

Following the model Jesus set forth in Matthew 7:3-5, the authors challenge their readers to first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In other words, with compassion and boldness, they encourage their readers to first look at their own spiritual lives before that of their children.

Unfortunately, many of the problems millennials deal with stem from their parents…whatever the case—if we are going to see major turnaround among millennials, they need to see a change first in moms and dads.” (page 9)

One by one, the authors gently peel back the layers of parenting in order to reveal that many Christians are in unspeakable pain because of the decisions their adult children have made. They are paralyzed by fear and doubt as they suffer under waves of regret regarding their parenting blunders. By encouraging the reader to let go of “fear-driven” parenting and focus instead on “faith-driven” parenting, McFarland and Jimenez challenge moms and dads to lean into their unique and influential roles in the lives of their adult children:

You are God’s stewards. You represent Him and have been given the authority and responsibility to serve and to demonstrate His love graciously.” (page 19)

We must remember that as parents, we have a LIFELONG role in shaping our children’s perception of God and what it means to be a Christian—this doesn’t stop when they turn eighteen.

Once we’ve looked within, confessed our sins, and gotten our own lives right with the Lord, we are in a better position to understand what is going on with our children. Out of the seven key reasons for faith abandonment common among millennial Christians, the first reason will probably come as a surprise to some of my readers, but it’s true.

Many millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) who claim to be Christian never had a true conversion to begin with.” (page 27)

“But wait!” you exclaim…

  • “He was active in the youth group!”
  • “She went on missions trips!”
  • “They went to church camp every summer!”
  • “He went to a Christian school!”

Activity does NOT not equal relationship. What they have discovered is that young adults who lack deep, relational roots in the faith will fall away when confronted with questions they are unprepared to answer. Remember the parable of the sower. Not everything that sprouts thrives.

Not everything that sprouts thrives ~ Laura Zielke #abandonedfaith @jasonpjimenez @alexmcfarland Click To Tweet

The book is organized into four key sections:

  1. What Went Wrong?
    Offering both hope and explanation, this section focuses on the roles of society, parents, and the church in the lives of millennials.
    .
  2. Forces Shaping Our Sons and Daughters
    This section paints an excellent picture of who millennials are, what drives them, and how much we need them in our lives and organizations.
    .
  3. Steps to Mend and Move Forward 
    With practical tips for helping to sustain and/or rebuild parent/adult-child relationships, this section will help the parent (or boss) understand how to relate to young adults.
    .
  4. Winning Back Your Millennial Child
    Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Practical tools include a prayer map for your millennial as well as instructions for building a foundation of biblical truth.
  • Appendix: When There Is a Failure to Launch
    This bonus section gives step-by-step instructions to help parents help their millennials move out on their own and enjoy a life of independence. 

Hope for MillennialsWhether or not they have walked away from the faith, if you have millennial children or grandchildren (or maybe they are post-millennial, like mine), you will benefit from reading Abandoned Faith. By the time you finish it, not only will you have a better understanding of millennials in general, you’ll also have a more clear picture of the millennial(s) in your own life. You will have more insight into the ways we, as parents, have exacerbated the problem and how we might contribute to the solution. Abandoned Faith will help you become more transparent with your kids about your own faith journey, struggles, and victories. This type of authenticity strengthens the parent-child bond and could potentially help your child come to (or return to) a fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

McFarland and Jimenez remind us that God has not given up on this generation, and neither should we. The LORD continues to reach out in love to ALL who call on His Name.

I highly recommend Abandoned Faith to anyone in a parental or work relationship with millennials. My hope is that pastors, ministers, young adult workers, grandparents of millennials, and anyone else interested in reaching this generation for the Lord will make an investment in this book and read it from cover to cover. By understanding ways the church has failed this generation, readers will be empowered to change course and make necessary changes before it’s too late.

1 Wikipedia contributors, “Millennials,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Millennials&oldid=773009995(accessed April 1, 2017).


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Praying for Relief from Fire & Rain

Laura Zielke

Please join me in praying for relief from natural disasters, for everyone in harm’s way, the people who are reaching out to help them, and an end to the reign of terror by the group that shall not be named.

Why pray? Wouldn’t it be better to pray for the floodwaters to evaporate and the fires to spontaneously turn to glitter? Maybe. I don’t know that God works like that, though. What I do know is that when natural disasters strike, followers of Jesus Christ will rise up, reach out, and do whatever they can to help the people in need–without gender, race, or sexual orientation bias. They just want to help…as do first responders and people of other faiths and athiests. We pitch in to help each other, because we value life. And life is so much more than things.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NLT)

Pray for Relief from Fire & Rain
Click to enlarge

I pray that God will help people who need to be rescued hang on long enough to be rescued. I pray that God will give stamina to fire fighters, water rescue crews, and average citizens who are rising above and beyond the call of duty to help thousands of people in desperate need. I pray that the water will recede in Louisiana. I pray God’s blessing and favor on everyone affected by the flooding–that they will be able to rebuild and be in better situation than they were before. I pray the fires will be extinguished in California. I @Prayat12 every day for mercy on our country during this insane election season. I pray for the end of the reign of terror under the group that shall not be named. And most of all, I pray for you, my friend, that you will recognize God’s hand moving in the midst of the storm–whether it be a rainstorm, a firestorm, or a lifestorm.

God never said life would be a cakewalk, but he did promise to see us through it to the other side.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13, ESV)

“The Power of the Other” by Cloud

Book Review

Have you ever wondered if your success in life is dependent on you alone? If your own grit, drive, and tenacity are the chief contributing factors to achieving your life’s dreams?
According to Dr. Henry Cloud, success in your career and your personal life will never be determined solely by what you do, regardless of your level of commitment or your work ethic. 

Why? Because, unless you are Mark Watney, alone on Mars, you live in community with others. And, believe it or not, your friendships are already

having a dramatic impact on how successful you will be at reaching your full potential and accomplishing your goals.

I just finished reading The Power of the Otherthe latest book by best-selling author and world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud. In this enlightening book about “the startling effect other people have on you…and what to do about it,” Cloud draws a clear distinction between four different types of relationships—three dysfunctional, one healthy— placing each one in its own corner, extrapolating the ways they contribute to, hinder, or possibly halt our personal achievements and overall success in life.

 

Power of the OtherThe Power of the Other

Each “Corner” is defined according to the level of connection we have the person. These levels of connection are based on how we feel during and after interaction with the person (valued vs. diminished; condemned vs. accepted; authentic vs. fake; and so on) and how this person’s influence directly impacts our ability to move forward in life.

As we begin to sort our relationships into four corners, based on the objective criteria Cloud presents, we learn that the healthiest and most authentic relationships exist only in Corner Four where there is emotional support, wisdom, community, truth, reality-based feedback, and caring communication. Corner Four relationships are the key to our success and a significant part of the foundation of a fulfilled life.

What makes Corner Four relationships so powerful is that they don’t end even after they end. The lessons we learn, the phrases that motivate us, are ours to keep forever.

This is an excellent book filled with practical information to assist you in re-aligning your relationships (1) to invest in and benefit from the healthy ones while (2) setting boundaries with or ending dysfunctional ones. I highly recommend this book.

Click here to order your copy of: The Power of the Other * 
Available in the following formats: Hardback, Paperback, Audio CD, Kindle®, Audible®

* Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” What I learned from this book has already had a tremendously positive impact on my life. I wrote the book review because I’m a learner, and it’s my mission in life to share what I learn with others. I hope you enjoyed the review. 🙂

Be Brave!

Be Brave

As part of the process of launching my new website, I was culling through some old blog posts and discovered a poem (below) I wrote back in December 2011. I remember the situation; I will never forget the results. Not fun…and this would be why I identify with Jeremiah more than anyone else in the Bible. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not comparing myself to Jeremiah. I just understand him…a lot…on the inside.

Jeremiah was a prophet called by God to deliver a specific message to the people and rulers of Judah during a very critical time in their history. God inspired Jeremiah to write down His words which have been preserved for us in two books of the Old Testament. I am not him. But there have been a handful of times in my life when I was called upon by God to deliver a very uncomfortable and unpopular message of truth to people in authority.

I didn’t ASK to be put in the position of “truth-teller;” rather, it was God who called me out to do a single task at a certain time in a specific place. Trust me: When God’s calling you to do something for Him, it’s pretty much the ONLY thing you can think about until you’ve done it. No matter how hard you try to shake it off, you can’t.

When God speaks, His message is clear, and it will come through in a variety of ways: Scripture, devotions, songs on the radio, sermons, friends, and sometimes, strangers. The calling is so clear, you have to do it. You can’t not do it. Not if you have asked God to take it from you, and He didn’t. Not if He won’t let you shake it. Not if you truly desire to obey the LORD and follow His will in your life.

When God calls you to do something, you do it. And HE takes it from there. Even if/when you are disparaged by others, you know in your heart that you were obedient to your calling. The fact is that your obedience is the only thing that will provide you with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” So, here’s the poem—it’s about being brave and trusting God when He gives you a difficult task.


Being Brave Is Hard

God doesn’t always ask us to do the easy things.
Sometimes He asks us to do the hard things.
I mean HARD. Really hard!
Something we could NEVER do under our own strength.
Something we would never do without HIS prodding.
Something requiring EVERY OUNCE of courage we have (plus more).

It will be UNCOMFORTABLE.
CHALLENGING.
DARING.
TOO BIG.

And it will have serious CONSEQUENCES.
Consequences we CANNOT control.
Consequences which may
–or may not–
be in our favor.
It’s almost TOO MUCH to ask.

But then, the choice IS ours, isn’t it?
We have FREEDOM of choice.

We could choose to OBEY.
To be BRAVE.
To let God take care of any CONSEQUENCES.
Because it’s not about us, is it?

OR

We could choose to SHUT DOWN.
Close our eyes. Plug our ears.
Sing “fa la la la la” until it all goes away.
Because,
in the end,
it’s all about us, isn’t it?
Our comfort.
Our strength.
Our reputations.

Bottom line:
It’s a choice.

Oh, LORD.
Make me strong!
Make me HEAR your voice.
Help me KNOW it’s YOU,
not I,
who is calling me to this
difficult task.

Help me rely on YOUR strength.
Guide me by YOUR Spirit.
Give me words to speak–
only YOUR words to speak.
Keep ME out of it.

And somehow…
Some way…
Make YOUR will known.

Even if it means people think differently about me.
Even if the consequences are unfavorable.
Place YOUR words in my heart, and light them on fire.
Let them burn in my soul until I have garnered
the strength to speak them.
Out loud.
To deliver YOUR message to the recipients.
And let me leave NOTHING out.
Let me speak every word.
And then let me walk away in peace.
For I have done what was required of me.
And I answer only to YOU.

Amen.

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’
his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:9