Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Provisional God

Have you ever wondered about people who have such incredible natural faith in God? Those people that always have a story about how this desperate situation happened and they just believed in God and he fixed it. More than fixed it, they received that and more. Somewhere in my brain I always put those people in the category of "special children of God." The ones who I hope to attain to someday. I never felt that I had those kind of stories. Perhaps you feel the same way. Sometimes I wonder if I'm not doing it right...if perhaps I'm not a "strong enough" Christian...or ..."good enough?"

We kinda hate to go there because we know that we can not ever be "good enough." There are no amount of things we can do to gain God's approval...and his blessings aren't dependent on what we do, or on how good we were today. So what is it then that separates us from those other people? How do we start having those stories of his incredible provision?

Since May-ish, I have been going to a Natural Doctor. For those of you who know about these, you will completely understand what I am about to say. But for those of you who don't I'll explain two things. When you first start going the doctor most likely will want to see you once a month for almost a year. To work out all the kinks and get your system running properly and smoothly. The second thing is that most insurances will not cover these types of Doctor you pay out of pocket. I in no way make tons of money or am secretly filthy rich, so I will admit that these visits have been costing me a pretty penny...but during the summer months and early fall these costs have not put me in danger of being broke. However, we all know how those holiday months seems like we turn around and suddenly the only store we can afford to shop at is Dollar General. This is where I find myself currently.

Today I had an appointment with my doctor...I was very concerned about being able to pay for the visit...I did a mad dash to my savings account to escort some money over to checking so that it didn't look so bare. I found myself worrying and fretting over spending the kind of money I knew would be required. I almost came to the decision to call and cancel the appointment...except I still would have been charged the initial cost of a visit for canceling the day of. (That was the only thing stopping me from doing that.) I tried to rack my brain of family members that owed me money so I could desperately ask them the pay up so I could afford my visit. But you know how it is in family...we borrow, they borrow, we borrow some the time it's really all said and done it's mostly unbalanced with myself in debt to every one else.

Somehow through the panic...I remember calming down long enough to just say, "Well God, I'm just going to have to trust you." I continued to get dressed for my appointment. About 15 minutes later my mom walked in (yes I still live with my parents who are so good as to let me stay with them) she looked at me and asked me how much my visit today was going to cost me. After I explained that the price varies from visit to visit...she just said simply, "You can take my card and pay for it out of my personal savings." Out of 7ish visits my mom has never offered to pay for a visit. Mostly because my parents do require I pay for most of my things myself. They allow me house room so I am expected to pay my own bills.

I nearly cried right then. God was so faithful, I didn't even have to ask for help except from him. It's had me thinking all day. I think the reason that so many of us don't have these kind of stories all the time is because we simply don't give God the chance. We have so many methods of fixing these situations ourselves. We are some of the most self-sufficient people in existence. I think instead of attempting to fix situations on our own we just need to give God the chance to show himself to us. It takes us stopping mid thought and saying, "God I just trust you."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The one for the crazy weeks...

So life has stepped up it's game lately and bombarded me with as much as it possibly could. If life had a fast forward button...someone just pushed mine. What with work, freelance, travel, and friends it seems like I've barely had time to breathe.

One thing that I am disappointed to admit to though is that I have neglected my time with God. For the last few weeks I have been running on the last dregs of my energy and trying to get everything all finished on my own power. My family can tell you the person I become in those days. Just call me Oscar the Grouch. Everything effects my emotions, and my state of mind. If traffic stinks, the rest of the day I'm touchy. If my sister looks at me funny, I want to pick her eyeballs out with chopsticks. God forbid if anyone disagrees with me, because then all my wrath comes down in a flaming ball of harsh words and red face. If I spend one day without someone talking to me or responding to me (and I work from home so this is completely plausible) then I am thrown into a deep and spiraling pit of self loathing, loneliness, and desperation for things that I don't need.

Perhaps you know these days as well. My mentor travels and speaks at women's conferences on occasion, and last month I had the opportunity to travel with her. She was talking through her testimony. Not one of drugs and rebellion, or horrible childhood home life, but one of a lifetime of just surviving the Christian life. Relying on conferences, bible studies, and speakers to give us spiritual highs to help hold us over till the next conference, bible study, or speaker. It's a tale most of us "good Christians" can identify with. The cyclical process of relying on everyone else for our spiritual growth. But the main point she makes is how we all have a cup that we carry around with us, and we want everyone else to fill it for us so that we can be who we are supposed to be and do what we are supposed to do. You see that way it's never our fault for being cranky and hard to live with, it's everyone else's fault for not being the people of God we need them to be. If everyone else would just do what they were supposed to do, then I could do what I'm supposed to do and be who I'm supposed to be. It's God's fault he hasn't brought me a man yet, cause once I get married then I can be the woman of God that I need to be and go and do the stuff God wants me to do.

Do you see the problem yet? She talked about how when we start our day out allowing God to fill us through his word, then there is an overflow effect. Our cup is full and we just spill over into everyone else's lives that we interact with. We are running off the fullness of God in our hearts and so we aren't weary and tired and grouchy. It's no longer an inconvenience to deal with the long line at the store, or the insane traffic, or irritating family members, whiny kids, demanding bosses, or any number of irritations that are thrown in our paths as we go about our day. These things become opportunities to show the love of God that has filled us. To share that with everyone around us.

For my single friends out there...when we allow God to fill us with his word everyday, the loneliness ebbs, the desperation to find someone before we hit 30 softens into a slightly occasional thought that flies through your head and burns out in light of the immense opportunities that God has placed before you now as a single person.
A friend of mine sent me this link today and all I could say was "YES! I like it!" so I'm going to share it with you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

the one about life...

Have you ever just stepped back and looked at all the mountains in your path? The ones that look like you need to be a professional hiker to even consider climbing, with a PHD in survival to make it to the other side? The ones that go so high up into the clouds you'd need an army of oxygen tanks just to breathe?

Sometimes the mountains only feel this monumental from our perspective from inside the bottom of the ravine before it.

I wouldn't say that I'm standing at the lowest part of my life or that the mountain is this huge for me. But I will say that the panic I'm feeling now that I've been told I must climb it, that there's no other way, is about as epic as if the mountains were all of these things and had grinning fangs plastered across it ready to swallow me at the first sign of weakness.

Sometimes at these moments when things seem so far out of your reach or control you just want to curl up and pretend it doesn't exist. You want to walk around in a few large circles trying to convince yourself and God that you are doing something important, just to put off the climb for a little bit longer.

But eventually God stops your ridiculous pacing and calls you to it. To the task he's set before you. And suddenly it's as if you've never heard the word Faith before, trust is a distant memory, and all those times God has proven himself to you before vanish like an expelled breath.

This is where I'm at. That moment. I've got absolutely nothing. No plan, no PHD in survival of life, no offering.

But this I have, I have a God who cares for me. What more could we possibly need?

This verse has been speaking, and speaking to me over weeks. I've been sending it to friends because it is so applicable to life. This is where I keep finding myself and all I can do is remind myself who God is and who I am to him.

"For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. THIS GOD - his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." - 2 Samuel 22:29-31

It's amazing how my mountain becomes an anthill in light of this verse.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The thing about humility and intimacy with Christ

Ok, so I have a few things I wanted to talk about today. First I wanted to share something that God laid on my heart this week. I went to a youth summer camp as a chaperon this last week, and let it be known that even as a leader God still speaks to us at youth events...just in case some of you assumed you reach spiritual maturity as an adult.

One of the last sermons that the speaker spoke about was the details of the death of Christ, and what a love story this was for us and how we should not be ashamed of Him because of what he went through for us. But his main verse he based his sermon off of was Psalm 56:8

"You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?"

This verse hit me so hard. I had completely forgotten about it. I get so wrapped up and lost in how big God is that sometimes I forget how small God is as well. That He is a being to be feared and respected as God of the universe, but also that he is a God who is actively and intimately involved with us individually. The very idea that he keeps track of every tear I shed is such an incredible and reassuring notion.

I am a very private crier. I don't cry in public and in general I don't cry much at all. But for those times that life overwhelms me, and hurt is so real I can barely breathe...I find my refuge in the shower. Yes. I pretty much have my bawling sessions in the shower...that way no one will bust in on me and ask me a bunch of questions about what's wrong, why am I crying, and try to console me. You can cry as much as you want in the shower, and when you get out, no one will know the difference because you are wet all over. I think just realizing that God knows those moments that I have...when my tears are mixed with shower water...that he knows intimately how many tears I've shed, reminded me that we are not the Israelites of the Old Testament. We don't have to go through rituals and sacrifices and priests and elders to get to Jesus. He is readily available right where we are. Even butt-naked in the shower. It reminded me that I can sit face to face with him and speak directly to him. I have forgotten this, and I wanted to throw it out there for others who may be dealing with the same feeling of disconnect with a God that seems so big at times, that someone so small and insignificant as me might just slip through the cracks a bit. Not with God.

The second thing I wanted to share was about humility. I read this today from Wisdom Hunters and it hit me squarely between the eyes.

'“I waited while you spoke, I listened to your reasoning; while you were searching for words, I gave you my full attention.” Job 32:11-12a

A loving listening ear is a valuable gift you give to those the Lord puts in your path. Do you hear the hurt in your husband or wife’s heart? Are your ears engaged with empathy in prayerful patience, before suggesting solutions? As you listen well, you represent Christ well. As you listen well, you love well. As you listen well, you honor well. Humble listening waits patiently so as not to run ahead of hearing well—it gives space to the process.

Most of all, a servant of the Lord is sensitive to the voice of the Lord. We humbly submit to His speech expressed in Holy Scripture and confirmed by the Holy Spirit in prayer. Godly counsel also validates the voice of God. Lastly, people or institutions in authority over us are a mouthpiece for our Master Jesus. His established authorities are boundaries for our protection and progress. So, listen to and obey the law of the Lord and the law of the land. Indeed, humility is slow to speak, quick to listen and always ready to serve.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20 '

I don't know about you but I love to help people with their problems. I relish times when people want MY advice about things. This is the wrong attitude. It's something that I need to work on. I find, when people do talk to me, I'm mostly just thinking about what I want to say next instead of seeking help in my heart from the Lord to guide my speech and give me the words that will guide and direct them according to the Spirit. I love the phrase here "Are your ears engaged with empathy in prayerful patience, before suggesting solutions?" ...BAM. I needed that hard core.

Anyway. I hope this encourages you as much as it has me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's time

It's been way too long since my last post and so much has been going on. But today I want to talk about what has been hammering on my heart lately. I've mentioned before the reading plan I have been on. It's intense and I won't lie I stink at it. lol. It is so much to take in everyday, but it fantastically keeps the entire counsel of God's word at the forefront of my mind when I am reading. I have a horrible tendency to get tunnel vision and only see the one thing right in front of me instead of the enormity of who God is and how every part plays into his righteous and good character.

Anyway, I have been reading Acts through once a month (or thereabouts since I am an inconsistent human I would say I've read it through about three times this year and am working on my fourth.) If you have never taken time to read through this book do it right now. The first half of this book is more focused on the beginning and wildfire-like spreading of the church and the Gospel. If you are discouraged where you are as a Christian, or you have doubts about all of this...start here. The second chapter in particular you see the power of the Holy Spirit through these men.
I guess that is what has really been picking away at me. We privileged Americans don't really know what it means to live on the power of the Holy Spirit. We are so used to being able to take care of ourselves, provide for us and our families, pay for our next meal...etc. We don't experience his power in everyday life and so when it comes to the big things or even just slightly bigger sharing about our faith with others we freak out. We climb back inside our protective shells and kick the Holy Spirit out.

I just want to take a minute and share with you or remind you the power that we have INSTANT access to. In Acts chapter 2 Peter gives a sermon. (Peter who followed Christ, denied him three times and his origins are of fisherman quality). These men have just received the Holy Spirit and are doing incredible things. But just imagine...Peter stands in front of this multitude and tells them this:

"But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
"'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.'"
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefor a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about he ressurection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
"'The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'"
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucifed."

After this sermon it says there were about 3 thousand souls who were baptized and received his word.

Some days I just feel so inadequate. I look at myself and I only see the mess. I look at the work and I see the insurmountable. I ask myself who am I to think that ANYTHING I do will help. My problem here is, first I'm looking at myself. In and of me...there is nothing that can do anything good. I am a failure. I will always be a failure. My second problem is that I'm not looking at Christ. In this entire speech that Peter gives, his whole point revolves around and adores Christ. Jesus was the focus. He should always be the focus. The power of the Holy Spirit is in the message. Peter was obedient and opened his mouth and the Holy Spirit came out. I may not be making much sense...did I mention I'm not a writer? haha. We have this power that is seen throughout the entire old testament...i.e.: Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua marching around a fort for a few days and screaming and it falling over, Daniel camping out with hungry lions for a night and walking out unscathed the next morning, the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit and being able to speak and others hear their own language. THIS is the power that we have at our fingertips and we never use it, we forget it's there. We want the spectacular displays not the ability to get from one day to another, from one breath to the next.

I heard a speaker at a missions conference I went to several years ago...he was a ventriloquist. I know, I know, it's weird...but there are some ventriloquist's that have so much talent that for just a moment you really do forget that, that stupid puppet is not real. You believe it for a moment. This guy was good. He did his little gag with the puppet and then he started to talk about abiding in Christ. You know "I am the vine you are the branches." We have heard it before. What struck me was at one point the puppet was telling him that he wanted to talk by himself. He wanted the speaker to walk away and leave him on a chair and let him talk for a few minutes without him. The speaker informed him that if he did this the puppet wouldn't be able to do anything. The puppet argued that he wanted to try. So the speaker put the puppet in a chair sitting soon as he took his hand away the puppet kind of sank in on itself...all the life was completely gone. He made his point. "apart from me you can do nothing." But more than that we are supposed to be possessed by the Holy Spirit. I had never given this phrasing any thought at all before...but I started to think about demon possessed people. They are completely crazy. It's clear someone else is steering the vessel. What about when we are Holy Spirit Possessed? Is it clear someone else is steering? Do we look different? Apart from the Spirit all we can do is sink in on ourselves...all of our life completely gone...but would it actually look like that for us? IF we didn't have the Spirit would our lives look different?

I'll leave you with this scripture. I hope that some of this has made some sense. I am still trying to wrap my brain completely around it...But I think the last question I want to ask is, is your life different because you now have the Spirit in your life and if not Why not?

Romans 8:26-30 says "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just some thoughts

So it's been a while since I've posted so I'm going to update. It's been a few months now and I wanted to update you on the "not focusing on marriage, but living victoriously in Christ everyday." I can't even begin to describe how freeing it has been. I look back and I see how utterly naive and selfish that thought was. I've been listening to Crazy Love by Francis Chan (Audio version while I walk read by Francis Chan) and he mentions that we are deluded if we think that this life is about us in any way. We kind of have this mentality that we are the star of our movie and that everything therefore revolves around us. No wonder we are selfish generation.

For the longest time I believe that somewhere in the back of my head, filed under "do not admit under any circumstances," was a thought that my purpose in life was this EPIC marriage...where God would display himself. I don't doubt that he can and might do that, but to think that was why I was put here...that my whole life centered on one event. It's preposterous. All I know is that my entire life is to be a reflection of the one who has claimed me. Who bought me out of my slavery and redeemed me. Being rid of the all-consuming need to find my mate has opened so many doors and possibilities.

The last couple of weeks God has been hammering this verse into my brain... "Then he said to me,"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, SO THAT the POWER OF CHRIST may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then I am CONTENT with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2Corinthians 12:9-10

This verse is soooo powerful. It requires nothing of us...but our weaknesses. Which, I'll just be honest, are many and varied. All that is needed is his grace. How cool is it that CHRIST'S POWER rests on us?

Be encouraged that God's grace is SUFFICIENT for you for today. That he has given you exactly what you need for today and will do the same tomorrow and the next day...but today is your reality. Walk in the confidence of your weaknesses and allow God to make you strong. So for the days that it all comes crashing back in...all the things you've been working on and trying to do better in. All the times you mess it all up, all the insecurities and stresses, "MY grace is SUFFICIENT FOR YOU."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Acts 10:34-43

So Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right and acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jess of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'