“When your life is said and done, don’t you wish someone would say that you were adventurous and daring? That you really lived this thing? That you weren’t too scared of your own shadow to chase the shadow of Christ even if it took you to Madagascar? Or just across the tracks to the rough side of town?” That’s some of the questions Beth Moore asks in her book, “Audacious” (2015), in chapter 6 titled “Waking the Dead” (page 60).
Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of best-selling books and Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the United States. She is also the president and founder of Living Proof Ministries, a Bible-based organization for women based in Houston, Texas (source from the back cover of this book). A brief description of this book on Goodreads states:
Thirty years in the making, “Audacious” is a deep dive into the message that has compelled Beth Moore to serve women around the globe. Glancing over the years of ministry behind her and strengthening her resolve to the call before her, she came to the realization that her vision for women was incomplete. It lacked something they were aching for. Something Jesus was longing for. Beth identifies that missing link by digging through Scripture, unearthing life experiences, and spotlighting a turning point with the capacity to infuse any life with holy passion and purpose. What was missing? Well, let’s just say, it’s audacious and it’s for all of us. And it’s the path to the life you were born to live. (Quote source here.)
Continuing from the opening quote at the start of this blog post, Moore goes on to state, “In chapter 4 [of the book], we slashed through synonyms like insolent, contemptuous, and rash in Webster’s definition of ‘audacious’ so you know we aren’t talking about being adventurously and daringly dumb. We’re talking about bodacious bravery and being up for a challenge and not excusing and comforting and protecting ourselves right out of our reasons for being here” (quote source: “Audacious,” page 60).
Audacious . . . “intrepidly daring: adventurous; marked by originality and verve” (quote source here). It involves being brave and showing courage–a courage that comes from the heart. This is what Beth Moore’s book is all about. She goes on to state on pp. 60-65:
What all of us could use right now is a big, fat dose of bravery. Being a woman in a culture that defines valuable as sensual is scary. Refusing to compete in the online game of pretense is scary. Resisting the maelstrom of self-marketing in social media is scary. Somebody might forget we’re here. Taking the risk of failing or looking foolish as you figure out who God has placed you on this planet to be and what He’s placed you on this planet to do is scary. An inevitable part of discovering what we’re good at is discovering what we’re not. Anyone you see out there putting their gifts and experience to full use with profound effectiveness has had a lion’s share of misses. They fell forward as often as they leapt forward.
Even when we land with both feet securely on the sidewalk-square of our calling, we will still stumble around with it more often than we hoped. A work of God cannot be mastered by man, no matter how gifted we are. One day we’ll think we’ve got the thing down. The next day we’ll wonder what on the ever-loving earth we were smoking. The paradox is that it takes God to actually serve God. In the terminology of Zechariah 4:6, it’s “‘Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.” We have to trust Someone we cannot see, be empowered by a Holy Spirit we often cannot feel, and go with Someone somewhere we have never been. It’s much easier to have the depth of a pair of pink floaties then to take the real plunge.
But love braves it.
And not because love is blind. Sometimes love sees far too well. You’ll see with absolute clarity that you are way over your head but you do it anyway, holding your breath, because you know it is the will of God. Audaciously loving Jesus doesn’t mean that you don’t see the water moccasin on the path in front of you. It means you walk the path anyway–with your heart pounding–even if you do it on your tippy toes. You have to know in advance that danger in inherent in every authentic adventure. You put your snake books on, zip them up, take a deep breath, and go. Audaciously loving Jesus doesn’t mean you have no idea your rock climb is high and steep. It means that you wipe the blood from your nose and keep crawling straight up a slick wall of marble.
If you’re scared to death of public speaking and God calls you to be a communicator or throws you up there to tell your story, He doesn’t blackout the audience so you won’t be afraid. At least He’s never done that for me. He calls you to do it anyway with every eye on you while you stand there in front of them breaking a sweat. And then you do it again and again and again until you start pushing through your fear. My friend, Sherry, is a lifelong spotlight-dodger who is shy by nature, but she’s having the bug-eyed realization in her early thirties that God is calling her to teach Scripture. In front of people. The other day she told me she has to wear a long skirt so people can’t see her knees knocking together. That’s the kind of thing you do if you’re caught up in a whirlwind of audacious love for Jesus. Because love makes you brave. And Jesus makes it worth it.
Take James 1:12, for instance. Read it carefully, noting the cause and effect.
Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him (NET).
The end of the verse doesn’t say that the person endured because he was tremendously disciplined, particularly strong, or impressively gifted. All three of those are beautiful things but only one cause is given in this verse for enduring the kind of testing that proves an individual genuine enough for the King of all creation to crown: the person loved Him. What won’t we do for love?
A heart-pumping love for God: that is what compels us to endure when a time of testing nearly kills us. That’s what makes us get back up. That’s what keeps us in it when we want to quit. You’ll see the connection in 1 Peter 1:6-8:
You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy (HCSB).
Did you notice the loop between testing and proving genuine in both segments? Take a good look at James 1:12 and 1 Peter 1:7 and you can’t miss it. We don’t have to prove anything to God. He is the “kardiognostes,” the Knower of the Hearts. He knows exactly what we’re made of and exactly what He invested in us. He knows the immensity of the treasures He tucked way down inside of us in a place that can only be tapped by turmoil. God knows precisely how He gifted us and to what unfathomable degree He empowered us through His own Holy Spirit. He knows to the minutest detail how thoroughly He has equipped us. God cannot be conned. He requires no proof to quell His own curiosity. Confusion is human, not divine. God knows exactly how real or pretentious our faith is.
Be we don’t. That’s the thing. Neither do the people in our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our social environments, or our spheres of influence. Neither do angels or demonic principalities. God tests us to bring out the real us. He tests us to prove our faithfulness to Him in front of a devil who bets we’re fakes. God tests us to prove us genuine to “a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1). For crying out loud, He test us to prove us genuine to ourselves, the last ones to usually know. God knows what is inside of you. That’s the person He’s trying to surface. If He’s knocking the cover off of you, He’s trying to get to the light.
Love not only fuels endurance. It feeds obedience. Look at John 14:15:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”
If you have a background of abuse like I do and have fallen victim to a colossal misuse of authority like I have, the thought of obeying anybody’s “commands” may make your skin crawl. This is one of the chief reasons why getting to know Jesus intimately through the pages of Scripture is vital. That’s where we see His character etched in concrete. God cannot be ungodly. Truth cannot tell a lie. Light cannot make you dark. Holiness cannot poke you full of holes. Everything commanded by God commands blessing. It may come sooner. It may come later. But it will come. His way is the way of wholeness, goodness, rightness, and of glad and gleeful reaping. The working of Deuteronomy 30:16 takes the warm pulse of the righteous commander:
For I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, statutes, and ordinances, so that you may live and multiply, and the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
We who live on this side of Christ’s cross and resurrection dwell under the New Covenant where divine promises find parallels primarily in spiritual terms, which, incidentally, far surpass anything temporal. Jesus promised that our lives rather than our lands would bear much fruit. He promised that we would have not just life but life more abundantly. He promised to multiply disciples all over the earth, invading every nation and people group with the gospel before He returns. And He’s chosen to do that primarily through His own followers. What He commands, He blesses. It takes some audacity to believe that in a culture chock-full of cynics, but you’ve got a God-breathed Bible to support it.
Audacious love leads to audacious obedience. And, sooner or later, audacious obedience leads to blessing. Maybe even sooner and later. First Timothy 4:8 promises that “godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Listen, you can’t live an obedient life and miss an adventure. Following the commands of Christ is not just about behavior. Behavior modification is not an end in itself in the New Testament. Transformation is about knowing the truth and the truth setting you free. If you’ll follow Christ’s commands, you’ll follow Christ straight to your calling and you’ll have developed the strength, grit, and stability along the way to handle it. If you’ll cooperate with Christ and do what He tells you to do in keeping with the words of His mouth and the ways of His heart, you’re going to find out how much room holiness makes for wildness. If the apostles and early followers of Jesus didn’t live wild lives, I’ll unpack my hair dryer from my suitcase, kick my feet up on a couch, and work crossword puzzles.
When you give your heart over to the outrageous occupation of the glorious love of God, He will flabbergast your mind with a living, breathing 1 Corinthians 2:9:
What eye did not see and ear did not hear,
and what never entered the human mind—
God prepared this for those who love Him.
(Quote source: “Audacious,” pp. 60-65).
There is a whole lot more in this book then what I’ve posted above, but I hope what I’ve posted above whets your appetite for more. Don’t pay attention to the cynics in this world. There are plenty of them around every corner. Instead, pay attention to the One who can take you through every circumstance you encounter if you keep your focus on Him and not on the cynics or the circumstances.
In the last chapter of “Audacious” titled “The Best Part,” Moore writes:
Jesus has never appeared to me. I’ve never heard His audible voice. But He has revealed Himself and His audacious love to me in countless ways. I have been moved by His Word at times so strongly that I’ve put my face in my hands and wept, or gotten out of my chair and gone face-down to the floor, or felt so energized and alive I had to come straight to my feet and pace the floor. Sometimes I purely have to slap my desk over the beauty and power of the Scriptures. That’s not natural. That’s the Spirit of Truth within the heart of a believer bearing witness to the Word of Truth in that pair of hands. It’s not of our own doing. It’s God. That’s precisely the wonder of it. Personalities differ dramatically. You may not be as demonstrative and you’re not prone to slap your desk, but if you’ve walked with Jesus very long, I bet you know what it’s like to feel extraordinarily moved by His Word in a way you know is His Spirit and not just emotion. That difference between adrenaline and anointing is in the fruit. If the results are eternal, that’s anointing.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will well up inside of me with enough force that I have to stop what I’m doing and completely change plans to follow the leadership of His Spirit “as best as I know how.” Those last six words are important. I’m a flawed woman with limited understanding trying to follow a flawless Savior with an infinite mind. Sometimes that welling up of Christ’s Spirit seems to come with inaudible but discernible directions. I’ve contacted people I haven’t talked to in ages only to find them–that very moment–desperate for encouragement or help or prayer. If you’ve been at it long, I bet you have, too. I have on occasion been compelled by the Holy Spirit to sit down by a total stranger in an airport, strike up a conversation with her, and soon find myself in an encounter so divinely orchestrated that only faithlessness could call it a coincidence. I’ve been in the full stride of a Bible lesson at an event and, without even thinking it through, stopped right in front of a person in the audience as I made the next point and learned later how specific it was to her. I end up as slack-jawed as she. Only an all-knowing, audaciously loving Savior reveals Himself that personally, intricately, and mercifully.
Those kinds of things are not my everyday experiences but neither are they isolated rarities. Many believers from diverse denominations, background, regions, countries, and traditions could testify to moments when Christ seems to reveal Himself, His power or His abounding affection in an extraordinary fashion. Like me, they believe moments like these can be valid experiences with Christ through His Spirit because Scripture blatantly says they can be. I’m not looking for something beyond what the Bible affirms, but I want every single thing within that Book that pleases Jesus to give me. He has denied my requests multiple times but every divine “yes” puts steel in my bones to keep seeking, asking, and knocking. I think that’s how He likes it. He is perfectly capable of saying “no,” but God forbid that we fail to receive because we refuse to ask (James 4:2). (Quote source: “Audacious,” pp. 161-162).
So let us strive to be audacious by keeping our focus on Jesus . . .
The One who is . . .
The One who was . . .
And the One who is to come . . . . (Rev. 1:8)
YouTube Video: “Beyond Me” by TobyMac: