Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Perspective. Purpose. Peace.


 This year has thrown a wrench in my perfect “how it ought to be” plan. I had found myself carrying burdens that weren’t mine to hold. Saddened by events I had no control over and overwhelmed by those that I did. I took a look in the mirror and seemed to have lost myself behind the business that had ensued.
I had to take a step back, breath, and start digging for my roots. The “this really matters” stuff. Not an easy task for someone who looks at the smallest things as the important details. Because frankly, even when everything has an importance there are still things that will outrank in priority. Boy, was that a hard pill to swallow.  I may have had a laugh or two at my own expense when prayers like “Lord, if you could just put more hours in the day I could do it all” came up in conversation with my Father. (Go ahead, laugh its ok. I can’t hear you. ;)
So what was the answer? My cure all? My fix all solution?
I don’t know.
BUT….(and it’s a big one) I am ok with it.
I have taken a step back, a break of sorts and through it God has shown me one thing over and over again. He. Loves. Me.
It became my theme. Over and over again I would SOAP and end up in tears over how much God loves me. (and you too by the way ;)
Tonight was the same thing. Moved to tears by the immense love God has for us. Love that does NOT fail. Can NOT fail. Will NOT fail.
I didn’t get it. I mean I understood to the best of my human ability that God’s unmeasurable love was far more than I could know to dream but I have been praying and praying about what I should do? How best to balance my time outside of work? How to not hurt when I think of the casualties of spiritual warfare and the heartache that comes with it?

Why on earth does God just keep telling me He loves me?!

What I knew with my head wasn’t registering with my heart. His Love is His answer to my prayers. The one He saw I needed. He is my root. He is my foundation and He will NEVER fail me. His love carries me even when I am too caught up in my own world to realize it.
His love tells me that even when the world seems crazy and all seems like chaos, I am grounded.
His love tells me that while I simply cannot please everyone, when He thinks of me He smiles.
His love tells me that I don’t need a lot of stuff to clutter my time, just quality things that point me towards the target.
As cliché as it may sound his love has been the anchor to my foundation in Him. I had floated far enough away to let my priorities become unclear. By following the reminders of his love I was able to pull past the clutter and chaos and realize that the closer I am to my Father the more clear my priorities become.
Do I have all my answers? No, but I have the peace that comes with knowing His love is enough. More than I knew to pray for.
What does God's love tell you? 




Saturday, June 21, 2014

When in the Woods...

For as long as I can remember I have always loved the woods.

When I have the opportunity to escape the world and set out on an adventure of exploration it brings a peace that I couldn't quiet define. As soon as the trees start hugging the road and shielding me from the ways of the world my worries start to melt into meaningless and my eyes start to open to the beauty of God's amazing creation all around me.

It is standing upon a mountain top with nothing but trees and mountains in front of me that I feel the smallest. It is a magnificent thing. In our world we are so conditioned to feel like bigger is better but I believe God wants us to recognize our smallness. Not in a way the belittles us, makes us insecure, or weak as the world would define but in such a way that we recognize our smallness in order to open our minds to his greatness.

I stand in awe every time my feet hit the dirt. The details in just the small part of land I have the privilege to stand on are outstanding. To the tiniest of insects, to the ridges on each leaf, to the character and age of each tree....the creation is extraordinary. Then to look out over the vastness of forest and realize every foot is unique in its wonderful detail is humbling. Then to realize that my eyes cant begin to touch the vastness of the world he created in infinite, beautiful detail creates a wonder for the Lord I cant begin to describe.   

God is bigger then I know to imagine. My mind puts limits on His greatness more then I would like to admit but it is here that I begin to peal the layers of the world away and just worship the Lord in all His glory. 

He is my Perspective. My Purpose. My Peace.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Freedom to Worship

As I dove into the bible this morning I was struck with the immensity of the privilege and freedom I have to worship the Lord.

Worship. The ability and willingness to let everything else go. Lift your hands, clear your mind, and stand in awe of the beauty of our Creator. The simple act of worship is an enormously powerful thing.

Most people think of worship as the music they hear on Sunday mornings. Beautiful voices singing powerful words and talented instruments intertwined in praise to the Lord is a glorious thing. (Especially when you are lucky enough to have an uber talented worship team like ours)  But those beautiful voices, the deep words of that song, and the harmony coming from those talented musicians take a back seat the heart of worship.

Webster's defines worship as : The act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god : the act of worshipping God or a god"

Worship is not music. It is not the words I speak. It is simply laying this world aside and focusing on the One who is, who was, and who will always be. Opening our heart and clearing our mind. We think of worship as a Sunday thing but worship is not just a church thing, it is an every day thing. It is taking a moment to breath and mindfully and whole heartedly praise the Lord for his Love.
The spirit is heavily felt when we are in His presence with our family in Christ but there is an intimacy unlike any other in worshiping the Lord alone. It is a privilege. It is an honor.

It is a privilege and a freedom that I tend to take for granted and this afternoon that became painfully obvious as I came across this news article. It is about a woman who is 8 months pregnant who is currently residing in a jail cell with her 18 month old, with shackles around her ankles, because she refuses to renounce her Christian faith. Now, I don't do politics and won't bother with the likes of that nonsense but what struck me was this women's courageous and heart wrenching story. She has been sentenced to 100 lashes and death by hanging for standing strong in her faith and for marrying a Christian man.

She can not pick and choose weather she feels like going to church on Sunday. She is not free to worship openly. She has been denied the privilege that so many of us take for granted. She has risked her life for it. She has been sentenced to death for it.

In the back of my mind, I knew the world outside of our bubble included horror stories like this one. People with hardened hearts cause unthinkable havoc. I have become accustomed to tuning out the bad and focusing on the good in the world. Focusing on the good was not the problem, the problem I created was taking for granted what an amazing privilege I have. I have OPEN, PUBLIC, and INTIMATE relationship with the Lord. I do not fear for my life when I close my eyes to pray. I am given an amazing opportunity to raise my children to love the lord. I am able walk in to church on Sunday mornings and worship with my family in Christ. I am able to scream I LOVE JESUS without fear or persecution.

The hard truth is that we spend to much time worrying about petty things and not enough time reflecting on the enormous freedom we have.

What church should I go to?
What should I wear?
What if they play music I don't like?
What if I don't know the words?
What if I sing awfully?

People are dying to have the privileges we take for granted.

People are being persecuted and killed for their faith.

People are dying to protect our freedom to express our faith.

People are dying to have the privileges we take for granted.

Jesus died to give us these privileges.

So here is my plea to you and prayer for myself. As we go into this Memorial weekend. Honor those who've given their life so you can have yours. Be grateful for the freedom and privileges we have. Worship mindfully and whole heartedly with awe and reverence for the Lord. Worship with an intensity of those who can't, for those who thought it was worth dying for. Because He thought we worth dying for.

If you are looking for a place to worship this weekend, we would love to have you.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I have to say...

This verse has been on my heart all week.  I thought it was because today, Donavin's birthday, was coming. I know it now to be true but not for just the reason I suspected. I believe it is so much more.
"You've turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You've taken away from me my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
That I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever."  Psalm 30:11-12

Pain. Grief. Hurt.

Comes in so many forms. Always unexpected. The world as you knew it seems to come crashing down around you as you search everywhere for a way out.  A direction. A purpose a why.

The waves seemingly consume us as we jump and climb desperately trying to keep our eyes above them.

To be consumed in the torment of grief is to be blind to the glory that lies above the waves.

I have been through grief. I have lived in and on the other side of grief.  I have felt and feel now a deep sorrow. I can say honestly that I am not sure if it is worse to hurt or see those you love, even those who may not know it, hurt. Deeply.

However, it was because of my grief that I am able to joyfully dance and sing praises to the Lord.

I have learned that grief and pain are opportunities for God's glory to shine. For him to heal the hurts and do so much more.

So tonight while I sit hurting and pained, knowing others I love and care for feel the same for whatever reasoning may be. I can not be silent. I will not be silent . In saying Joy WILL come from the mourning!

We will rise above our waves of grief and continue to praise God for his amazing love. For it is from his love that he shapes us individually and in fellowship with each other. His love will shape our relationships and cause us to reflect on them with grace and compassion. Grace and compassion will not fix everything. His love will.

Jesus died for us so we could continue to carry each other to him. Jesus died to carry us.

Sometimes pain is the price we pay, the sacrifice we make for something bigger to take place. Something bigger then we may be able to wrap our minds around, our hearts around, our thoughts around. Something better. 

Grief does not come without gain but you have to be willing to receive what the Lord is offering weather it makes sense or not. What is done can not be undone but it can be used to bring glory to God's name.

God calls us to walk paths we don't want to walk. We can walk out on that water towards Jesus with a fear, trembling, and resistance or with our head held high remembering that God's plan comes with a purpose.

I would have never chosen for my son to die. Ever. I would have sacrificed all I am today for a moment with him. I glimpse of his open eyes. I got shoved on this painful path.

I was faced with a choice. I could let it sink me, the depression would have been easily justifiable, or I could realize that my sons short life had a purpose. I devoted myself to that purpose. Whatever the reasoning. Whatever good things that came from it that I would never know. I KNOW wholeheartedly It was to bring Glory to God. My son's life. My son's death was to bring glory to His name.

So no matter what giant waves look like they will surely sink me, I know God is right above them. When I don't have the strength to stand He will carry me. His love will carry me through the hurt. 

I choose the joy that comes from the mourning.

And that is my prayer for you.

I sincerely love you all.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year's Challenge If You Dare to Accept It

Awww New Years.

A time of year where we can reflect on where we have been, leave it behind, redirect our targets, and start fresh aiming in the right direction.

I have done all of the above. I even have a couple of, dare I say, resolutions!

 However, what has been on my heart this year above all was how Jesus allows us to do just that. Far more than any date on the calendar ever could. When we invite him into our lives, we are new. We can reflect on where we have been. Leave our sins behind, and redirect our targets toward him. He is our directions.  (so glad this is figuratively speaking or that could have gotten weird)

It doesn't have to be a new year, a new day, or even a new hour. He allows you to come to Him for renewal any time. Any moment.

How amazing is that?!

Well, coincidentally (ha-ha) I am re-reading Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson as this new year passes through. (If you haven't read it...do it. It's amazing. You'll thank me later. ;) Upon my reading tonight I thought to myself...wow, why do I need to write a thing I could just copy everything in this chapter?!" but then I remembered it would be plagiarism and that would be bad.

The book is about "Realizing the power of your identity in Christ." The chapter I was reading tonight focuses on our perceptions of ourselves compared to God's perceptions of us. He states that "you must believe you are a Child of God, to act like you are a child of God."

The section in "Victory Over Darkness" called "New Life Requires New Birth" spoke deeply to my heart tonight and inspired the challenge I am about to present you with but first a few quotes from his book to inspire you to read it for yourself.

"A Christian, in terms of his or her deepest identity, is a saint, a spiritually born child of God, a divine masterpiece, a child of light, a citizen of heaven. Being born again transformed you into someone who didn't exist before. What you receive as a Christian isn't the point; it is who you are. It is not what you do as a Christian that determines who you are; it is who you are that determines what you do. (see 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:9,10; 1 John 3:1,2)."

   "People cannot consistently behave in ways that are inconsistent with the way they perceive themselves. You don't change yourself by your perception. You change your perception of yourself by believing the truth. If you perceive yourself wrongly, you will live wrongly because what you are believing is not true. If you think you are a no-good bum, you will probably live like a no-good bum. If, however, you see yourself as a child of God who is spiritually alive in Christ, you will begin to live accordingly. Next to a knowledge of God a knowledge of who you are is by far the most important truth you can possess.
   The major strategy of Satan is to distort the character of God and the truth of who we are. He can't change God and he can't do anything to change our identity and position in Christ. If, however, he can get us to believe a lie, we will live as though our identity in Christ isn't true." 

Pretty good stuff huh? It gets better. The list below is who God says we are.

It. Is. Empowering.

(If you would like a PDF version of this sent to your e-mail please let me know)
The Challenge:
Mr. Anderson's challenge in the book is my challenge to you. Read the list below twice a day for two weeks! I will share how it has changed me and I want to hear how it has changed you! Let's start this new year pointing our arrow in the right direction together.

The Goal:
 The book says it best. "The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity."

If we gain nothing more than a better understanding of who we are in Christ, we will have gained an irreplaceable treasure. The truth about ourselves through God's eyes can and will unlock doors in our lives we didn't realize were closed.

Will you accept the challenge??
Comment, e-mail, or Facebook me to let me know your in!
(*For the record, I was in no way paid to write this the book is just literally THAT awesome.)

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