Faith

Faith’s Biggest Fan!

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]”  – Hebrews 11:1-2

 

“Preach, Babe”!

Yelling verbal support as my husband preaches his heart out each week is something most are familiar and can hear on our church YouTube videos. This last week, I probably could have waved a banner (if local churches still supported that) and possibly banged a tambourine on my leg (come on now!). Since those things are usually frowned upon in local church services, I contained my extroverted ways to being Faith’s biggest fan.

Where do you begin with this message as Jason begins with closing out a three week home-run series on Love, Hope and now Faith? He talks about the incredible work by our Creator of the physical eyes and how they process images. Again, we are reminded that our living bodies continually tell a story of God’s workmanship. Then he proceeds to our spiritual eyes: the ones that see into another realm and are connected to our heart. Our faith eyes! The message wouldn’t be complete without highlighting some way his and my personalities are so opposite yet complimentary. His example was our unique and different choices in sunglasses, which I might add, his are still ugly and mine quite fabulous (said in my diva voice)!

Underneath the layers of science, theology, and humor, this message is REAL, it’s raw, and we are walking it out with so many wonderful people. There’s not a week that goes by that certain spectacles of tainted faith are removed and I’m reminded of the lens of faith that sees the world, people, experiences, challenges, blessings, opportunities and trials through the clear Word of God.

Faith is not a future oriented emotion declaring a potential promise of God, but believing for the NOW despite not being seen physically (Hebrews 11). The beginning point of Faith is in God’s character: He is who He says He is. The ending point of Faith is in God’s promises: He will do what He said He will do. All the rest in the middle? That’s the messy faith journey we live out in our lives as evidence to His character and promises.

Are you hopeful (a future implied desire) to experience God or are you Faith-filled (to experience God (we just need a mustard seed size for it to happen – Matthew 17:20)?

Hope places expectation in tomorrow, but faith receives God’s promises for TODAY. How many times do we place hope in the driver’s seat of our lives when it is a position that belongs to Faith? . When you woke up today, did you accept EVERY promise God has for you, knowing that He’s a good God who loves you and declares you His favorite? That’s faith talking and walking!

Is your faith being tested, shaken, rocked, messed-with, challenged, or dissipating? GOOD! That means you’re “in the middle” of this faith journey because you have already believed in God’s character and now you are confidently accepting the fulfillment of God’s promises.

Are you ready to remove your many shades of unbelief and start siding with faith? Me too, so let’s go!

With all my heart,

J-Huff

“This is my Pastor’s Wife….”

Over the weekend and in some social statuses I was introduced as “This is my Pastor’s Wife”! It took me a second to own the title upon this introduction, but I quickly and inwardly shooed away the insecurity that arose (because who has time for that?!) and dove deep into sharing  my “non-biased” belief of being a part of the best church with the BEST people in the world!

As a result of growing up in religious circles, I’m familiar with titles, their impact on people and the dysfunction that comes along with the carnal desire (in us all) to be recognized and honored. I’ve seen the wounded limping around grasping for healing because of the pride and ego that emerges with power trips, struggles, and battles of religious titles and territories that devastate those we’ve been given to faithfully steward, shepherd, and love.

But I’ve also seen the gracious, incredibly honoring, and life-giving women (and men) who emerge as pastors and leaders. I always allow these people to stay at the forefront of my heart and mind. As I journey into this new season as a church-planter, pastor’s wife, and other roles, I remember the three female Pastors who have made a mark on my life and resonate in my heart.

I will always honor and cherish each of them and they have taught me some profound and precious things.

  1. My mother, Pastor Susie Shanlian, Atlanta City Church 
    Many knew her as Susie Snow, but she was my first “Pastor’s Wife.” She taught me unconditional love and perseverance. God knew I needed the world’s greatest example of a pastor’s wife who also came in the form of my mother. I believe being a female pastor mirrors the values of a mother; both are the heart of the house. My mother provided safety, love, hospitality, encouragement, nurturing, coaching, and often discipline to those at my first spiritual home. She amplified every lesson with excellence and a teachable spirit while persevering through some difficult ministerial, emotional and mental storms. From her I gained my heart. 
  2. Pastor Bobbie Houston, Hillsong Church
    Many are unaware of my short but life-altering time with Hillsong Church and Hillsong School of Ministry. I have the incredible honor to serve under Pastor Bobbie Houston and watch a global vision take shape through a local church. She taught me to think GLOBALLY. What I want done for the many I first do for the one. Her reach is local; but her impact global and that takes VISION. She taught me to dream big and work hard and that the most powerful entity on the face of the planet is the local church. She taught me to empower people and love them thoroughly. From her I gained my vision. 
  3. Pastor Kerri Weems, Celebration Church
    This Pastor leads with grace and wisdom. I truly believe we’ve only experienced an ounce of all that is within her as she wonderfully leans into seasons well and she freely shares grace. In fact, she taught me a lot about grace. That it has many voices throughout seasons, yet it all remains the same; extend grace and grace will always extend itself back. She taught me boundaries, that ministry has a personal impact, and we have the power to choose those results. She taught me friendship. She graciously allowed me to experience many aspects of her life and serve in various areas that she tilled the soil and planted the seeds. I learned that ministry can be hard. However, life can still be fun and it is important to celebrate the wins as they come. She also taught me to keep moving forward. From her I gained grace…for myself and others. 

With each passing year, I reach deep into the depths of my experiences and words of wisdom these women spoke, however, the lessons above keep bubbling up. I honor these women for who they are and the position they’ve taken before God and His people. I pray God would see me fit to carry on their heart, vision and grace to another generation in need. So, with my extroverted heart, often pushy vision, and loads of grace, I move forward into the purpose and plans of God for my life. I stand on the shoulders of women who’ve done it right and those who’ve done it wrong; both are lessons for life. I’m excited to establish a heart for a new home, a strong and big vision for the local church to carry God’s message to the world, and extend His grace to those in desperate need.

Let’s go after the one; let’s go after the many.

With all my heart,

-JHuff

 

 

 

Life With Fear

Lately I’ve wrestled with the word “fearless”. It doesn’t settle well in my life anymore…actually it has no place at all. I’ve learned to lean into fear: I embrace it, own it, recognize it, and deal with it.

Think about it – is one ever fearless?

Do we ever calm the beating heart when we put ourselves out there in front of people or when we bet back in the gym one more time because we fell off the wagon for the 20 millionth time.Will we ever feel fearless when we choose to stay instead of run and face our terrible mistakes….

When we send out our 25th resume already assuming we will get on more rejection….

When we say “I’m sorry” to the one we’ve hurt but loved the most…..

When we choose to be authentic in a culture that demands sameness..…

When we say no to living a life of mediocrity when others tell us we are pretty normal…

When we realize we’re in debt up to our eyeballs and we have to ask for help….

When believing in the promises of God become impossible….

When people respect us and we fail terribly…and lose terribly…..

No, fearlessness doesn’t exist, but courage sure does.

 

Courage is the gentle whisper that carries the strength to silence loud and insecure fears.

It doesn’t’ ever need to be explained, defended, or justified – courage just stays the course and begins again and again and gain.

Courage grabs the paws of a lion and holds on tight until the battle is won.

Courage chooses kindess over rightness.

Courage gives us the strength to backdown from an accuser because it knows words won’t pacify – only actions.

Courage won’t fight battles that that are built on “proving and striving”.

Courage knows that personal responsibility and growth are the keys to rising above.

Courage says, “one more time.”

Courage says “yes” even when you want’ to say “no.”

Courage pushes you one more mile.

Courage knows it has a purpose in the middle of pain.

Courage believes the storm’s rain is there to grow us, not to destroy us.

Courage says, “I’m worth it” so “I won’t do it,”

If we ever want to experience great courage, we must first get good at feeling fear.

With all my heart,
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4 Things Women Should Quit!

I’ve never been known to be a quitter. I’ve failed and gotten back up over and over, but not necessarily quit. Maybe it’s a learned behavior or a personality trait, but I have learned to hang on. That trait also bled into areas that I should quit – ones that were damaging my future and harming those I love. In my short years lived I’ve seen the same traits also hurt other women, so I have set out to be an excellent quitter and encourage my fellow women to do so as well.

 

Quit…

 

Chasing

We chase after money, our to-do lists, kids, men, the spotlight, honor, respect, and on and on… That chase is endless. It keeps our hustle on point and our calendar full to achieve a mystical ideal called perfection. We all have our now version of “perfection” and society’s information overload constantly supports this standard of living. No one is ever promised perfection, but we can always guarantee progress. Progress happens day by day, little by little, tending to the things we have now, within our realm of stewardship and influence. Give up the chase… It’s overrated, and an under-promised lifestyle of chasing a better tomorrow when we’ve got the best today.

 

Quit…

 

Comparing 

We compare ourselves to others. Let’s set down the lens of filtering women between the wide gap of “less or more.” Filtering our life to “she has more,” which spotlights our insecurity, and “she has less,” which equates entitlement, is a dangerous line to walk. We lose either way; one negates the cultivation process of growing what we have into something wonderful, and the other believes that in order to feel big we have to keep others small. Comparing robs us of our joy of “enough.” It magnifies a gap that is not meant to be closed. Everyone walks a different journey and it’s our job to stay in our lane cheering someone else on in theirs, so halt the comparison thief that steals your joy and leaves you stagnant.

 

Quit…

 

Controlling

Let it go…Those words ring true for kids everywhere, but even more for women struggling with control. I’m neither speaking of responsibility or faithfulness in areas that you’ve made commitments too, but rather the belief that everything will be a success IF you can lead it, organize it, change it or even clean it up. When control bleeds into relationships, life becomes a blur thinking that the success and failure of people is dependent upon you. This is especially true if their success/failure directly affects your identity or well-being (wife and mom, I’m referring to you). The only thing we should ever become experts in is controlling ourselves. By taking personal responsibility for our own actions, we begin to see ourselves with compassion and love which overflows onto others. Seek freedom for yourself first and control will release it’s grip.

 

Quit…

 

Crushing

Her win is not your loss. Her approval is not your denial. Her success IS NOT your failure. Let me state is another way for you as well; your goals coming to fruition do not take you crushing any one else’s, PERIOD! Give yourself permission to celebrate other’s success and accomplishments including yourself and release the need to reduce, bash, tear down, destroy, or even inwardly despise those around you who are doing well or possibly better than you. It does not define you; you define you. When we feel the tug to reduce others to enlarge our value, we actually do the opposite. We destroy ourselves and those relationships little by little until all that is left is an insecure, paranoid, judgmental mess to clean up. Rejoice with others. Celebrate them and their accomplishments. Tell them that they inspire you to be better even in the moments where you feel less. Practice makes progress, so in the little moments you’ll replace that insecurity with true happiness for others.

 

With all my heart,

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Conflict, be good at it!

I dare you in 2017 to be good at conflict!

WHAT?

Yes, you read that correctly; ROCK conflict this year. Be willing to disrupt your own personal harmony and address the things that need to be confronted in yourself, and be brave enough to have a tough conversation with someone who matters.

Even if looking inward scares you and creates an emotional mess.

Even if that person rejects your attempts to talk about the “elephant in the room”, do it anyway.

What can feel like pressure, could be your breakthrough; because “easy” never grew anyone.

If your desire is healing, you must address the pain and hurt. If your desire is reconciliation, you must be willing to admit your own mistakes and be vulnerable with another. If your desire is peace, you must fight for it.

See the trend? What you desire will take a certain measure of conflict. Not the fist-throwing, name-calling type, but the willingness to step up to what is bringing destruction and confront it.

Hebrews 12:14 says,
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life…”  

Peace takes work and living holy also takes SERIOUS work. The word “holy” means “dedicated to” and the minute you decided to make Jesus your priority, you dedicated yourself to Him and Him alone.

Ready to disrupt you life in 2017? You got this, because He’s got YOU!

 

Mad love,

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