Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A manger in Greece?

So i went to Kairos last night in nashville with some friends and in the spirit of christmas the service was guessed it, christmas. we sang christmas carols and then pastor mike talked about the birth of Jesus. He talked about the manger scene and christmas pageants (haha)...he joked about how we set out manger scenes up wrong, how we put joseph to the side cuz we dont know what to do with him-he talked about how we get mad when we find out there is no inn keeper, there just is no room in the inn. and we get mad cuz mary is giving birth in a BARN, there is no way thats sanitary. hahaha, man that still makes me laugh. anyways there is more and ill elaborate but this part of the story he told got me thinking...

How wrong is that?! That Jesus- our king and savior, is born where animals eat then digest and excrete food. ewww! Putting aside Jesus being part God in this moment, if I were mary I would be so pissed. I am in LABOR and i cant even get a pillow? are you serious. How messed up is that? and how messed up is it that God chose this to be the place his son would come into the world? I mean, I know our world is sinful but really, no one thought- I can do this woman a solid and let her have my room. But instead, Jesus "was born in a manger, cuz there was no room in the inn". But i thought about what our nativity sets would look like if she had given birth in the most likely would look like a movie scene at a crack hotel lol....there would be people everywhere, im sure there would have been no privacy for mary during her delivery, sheperds are the outcasts of society- so they are for sure not coming inside smelling like animals, and on top of that, its tax season so im sure there are lots of drunks. Not the nativity scene we know and love. lol. Soooo here is the twist, God chose to let Jesus be born in a dirty smelly stable because, in that place, the birth of the living God was shared with the least of the least, in a way so intimate that it could only be achieved in the stable. HUH. so from the very minute Jesus came to this earth, God set an example of what a relationship with him would look like...intimate. Jesus calls us into the strangest places that can seem undesirable, dirty and smelly, or a place that seems unfit for a king and thats where we meet him. He meets us in that place that is quiet and intimate and where there is nothing from the outside world to take the attention off of him. Its the stable where we meet our savior, WE- the least of the least, the poor sheperd boy, the outcasts, the undeserving- get to share in the life of our precious savior and king. And last night at Kairos (which means the right or opportune moment in greek-a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens), Jesus drew me into that quiet, dirty, smelly stable and reminded me that this may not be the place i long to be, but this is the place my savior lives.

pastor mike went on, and the further and further he went into he sermon the softer he spoke...

He started out louder, joking some about joseph and how we want him there but how we never really know where to put him in our manger scene, and the wise men...why are they even in the manger scene because they werent there in the beginning, laughing about the star placement and what not... but he began to tell the story of the wisemen, and his voice softened and slowed down, his demeanor changed. I could see the impact his next statement had on him and how he was being changed from the inside as he prepared to drive the next point home... He went on about the wisemen, and how as they made their way to visit jesus, the king born to bethlehem and how when they got to Jerusalem, King Herod heard of talk of a born king and how
Herod had stolen his throne and so the thought of a child born with rights to the throne was a threat to Herod. pastor mike talked about how Herod was sneaky, he was bad, he had a dark purpose. He called the men to speak to him, he told them to find the child and report back to him so he could worship him too. Pastor Mikes voice got softer but a really intense tone, Herod knew where that baby was, he had people all over the city, Herod didnt need them to report back- he was smarter than that- he had all eyes out for him and he had evil in his heart. The wisemen showed up and they worshiped him, they gave him the gifts (we all know the story) and then they went home...but not through Jerusalem. That same night God gave joseph a dream, telling him to leave immediately and go to Egypt because Herod was out for Jesus's head. Jesus came to die for our sins, but not that way. it is the absolute unthinkable, that Jesus be slaughtered. OH sorry but let that sink in.

What incredible lengths God went through to be sure that we would have the ability to gain salvation. Jesus is helpless at this point in life and Herod has every resource, every reason, to kill the messiah but God refused to let his son die yet. At first thought it seems to be act of mercy for his son, when really it is an act of love for his people. He loves us so much that he will only let his son die on the cross after living a perfect, blameless life that fulfills his law. THAT is love. This precious child that mary labored over, that joseph gave all and did everything to protect, was given as a lamb for slaughter...So thank you Jesus for meeting me at Kairos and giving me awhole new perspective on your life and our Abba Father!

What an  Amazing God we have.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So this is love....Mmmmmm

 You know when there is something in your life, or a set of interactions with a person, or even a series of bad choices that without even noticing cause your attitude, or even demeanor to change? the past few weeks for me have been an internal battle between frustration and embitterment and then sadness. through different series of events I have noticed my attitude has changed. I find myself complaining alot about things that will not change, I've become even more controlling in uncontrollable circumstances, I'm extra sensitive to things that people say or do- yet I internalize all of it. I've even noticed how my desire to be productive has changed and my posture has slumped alot like my moods. For some of you this may be new News but it may not be....I'm not as good at hiding my emotions as i feel like i am. (haha)

Anyways, I was standing outside my house today enjoying the weather before it turned freezing and I thought...I was thinking about a certain internal conflict and i was standing there playing every detail in my mind over and over, trying to figure out where things took the turn for the worst...Desperately trying to find a diplomatic solution to solve this conflict. However, true to my nature, I also was trying to humor myself in the process...see me and my friend Abby crack Jesus jokes b/c we (well at least I know I do this) feel like He appreciates it and he laughs cause we laugh. anyways, that's besides the my mind I'm cracking presenting jokes and then Jesus decided to turn my inner monologue into a not so funny dialogue. He used my joking to very clearly tell me that present is the very thing I'm not doing and up until this point it hadn't even crossed my mind to. AND then i started thinking about scripture he has put in my head lately...

Psalm 19:14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your eyes oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Romans 12:17-18  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

1 Corinthians 10: 12-13  Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall.You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations.

Philippians 3:8-9  Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

1 John 3:18  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

When I accepted Christ at 19, I had been the product of an ideal church family, and I still couldn't begin to comprehend the magnitude and the depth of the power of truth. I never expected the same truth that would bring me to my knees in grief and repentance was the same truth that would encourage and empower me as well as teach me life, forgiveness, and love. See, in my head, I was using politics, reason, and logic to "find" a solution, but that's not what I'm called to, No! I'm called to SEEK Christ in his infinite wisdom, I'm called to seek his love, seek HIM. He promised it would be good, "for all things work together for the GOOD of those who love him and are CALLED according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28)  <---right there, good. Soooo why had it not crossed my mind to present it? why hadn't I thought to walk with him in this? This disturbed me as much as it might be disturbing you...don't worry, Jesus and I are working this out. I am now seeing in so many ways how its because I wasn't walking with the Lord at all, makes since right? I was doing it on my own while convincing myself I was walking with the Lord. (I plead temporary insanity) But even in not walking with the Lord he is faithful...(parts of 1cor 6:19-20) " are not your own, you were bought with a price, so honor God..." "Revelations 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent" ...when I say faithful, I mean REALLY REALLY FAITHFUL! like slap you in the face and its awesome kinda faithful. He wasn't going to allow me to stray far and even when I wasn't asking for it, he gave me his discernment, he gave me ears so tuned in that I can hear his voice in the middle of my diplomatic dispute. He was so quick to turn my gaze to him, I have been selfish, I have been self surviving, I have put myself before my sisters and brothers, I am at my wits end, and there I was lead in truth back to the Lord.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always PERSEVERES!

The Love of Jesus for myself and the people I'm around Always protects us, it protects me from myself, protects my friends from my harshness and cruelty and selfishness. Love protects our hearts from wandering. Jesus' Love ALWAYS trusts the Lord is in control and he is GOOD. His love trusts that the Lords sheep will never be lost or forgotten. Jesus' Love doesn't loose hope in his people because they are HIS forever! Jesus's= love in me never looses hope that Christ is coming to bring me home and that I will be made into perfect love. And Jesus' love Perseveres in DARKNESS, it abolishes hate, it never can be swayed. Jesus' love in me wins the battle over Adam in me because Jesus won that battle when he defied death! As long as I love Him and I love the people in my life then I cannot do anything other than win the battle over darkness in my heart....thanks Jesus, you just solved my problem....LOVE! Love those that can be hard to love, Love those who are easier to love, Love when I don't want to, Love because he first loved me when I did nothing to deserve it, and to let love transcend who I am....but up till now I have been childish in SOOOOO many ways, Ive been vengeful, Ive been stubborn, Ive spoke in a manner that is not of God...

1 Cor 13: 11-12  "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a [wo]man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

This implies I have become a woman, and I certainly am not the woman God has created me to be, but I am slowly and faithfully washing the filth of this world off and putting on his white garment of righteousness. But for now, as the bride of Christ, I keep walking, I keep trekking, I keep waiting for him to teach me more, to let me go further and further into his LOVE! I keep waiting to become in full what I am in part, to be fully known and to fully know...

Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"

I come and Lay at your feet Lord, I meditate on your word, I repent God....I'm so sorry I haven't Loved you, I'm sorry I turned my back on your truth, I'm sorry I've treated people with disdain and judgement, I'm sorry I've lived in a way that doesn't reflect the beautiful BEAUTIFUL gift of LOVE you have given us. Lord Make me the visual representation of your LIVING son, Lord make me into the Beloved daughter of the most high king, Spirit keep knocking, and don't stop...bang louder, break a window, ring the door bell 100,000,000 times if that what it takes to get my attention. LORD, BIND MY WANDERING HEART TO THE.

Psalm 119:
9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
   By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

jenny and tyler say it best

(I'm listening to jenny and tyler and they are nailing what I'm feeling perfectly through I have random lyrics through this whole thing)

"I need you to carry me, when I am weak; I'm ALWAYS weak."
my spirit is poor and weak....but you are strong

 Matt 5:3 "Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for the theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Let’s talk about good news-- this is good news! I'm not sure I can really say I've understood the depth of the meaning in this "attitude" and not sure I still do. I do understand being poor in spirit...because today mine is. I feel weak and tired and spent. I feel used and abused, I feel shame and sadness. I feel condemned and guilt and I can't help but feel I've done wrong. I certainly don't feel like worthy of the kingdom of heaven.  I've been dealt a bad hand and I don't know how to get back in the positive-- I'm on a losing streak. I don't know how to respond anymore and I hide. "I can hardly hold myself together" anymore, and I feel weak. I've tried to tread lightly...I've tried to be peace, and I'm tired. If I were to sum up in one word how I would be weary. or heavy-laden but that's two words. I feel I have been defeated. I can feel myself being exiled, being shut out. I can also feel myself shutting down. Like really, my body is sluggish and heavy, my mind is hazy, my character is depleting and if my spirit were a sword it would be a very dull butter knife. I'M DONE.

I've given all I got, the sad thing is I KNOW Christ has more for me to give but I haven't allowed him to overflow, instead I've poured all I have, Me, MY Power, and I'm not a super powers are drained. BUT "I'm holding on to hope," that this is GOOD. After all, I just wrote a blog about how the valley is where I am transformed. but I'm tired, I'm weary, I'm spent. I know this isn't what Jesus wants for me. He doesn't want to see his daughter tired and spent, He doesn't want his daughter to back down from the truth she knows because she has become a coward. He wants my heart to be joyful. You know, less of me-more of him. And I understand this is writhen with selfishness. I get this is self depleting, I understand that I'm not being who God has made me...there is no way THIS is what He had in mind. I can say, however, that I'm weak and I'm poor in spirit, it just may not look the way that it should...sorry God. But this is my cry"come dwell inside my heart, live in the deepest part" but "you may not like what you see in the deepest parts of me"...

Psalm 103:14 For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

I'm filled with a lot of weakness and yuck. I want so desperately to not feel this way. I want so desperately for God to take it away. I don't wanna do this anymore. I'm tired of feeling like I live in an environment that doesn't reflect God and I'm tired of feeling like everywhere I turn is filled with emptiness and I'm weak...

 2 Corinthians: 12 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Ugh and then there is truth. I'm supposed to be weak. I want him to take it away so much, I want me to be the pillar of strength. I want to be self fulfilled. I don't want to wait for wisdom and maturity. "these walls were made from pain, the labor was in vain," Ive done everything possible for as long as I remember to become numb and indestructible. "but I still believe these lies" that I am capable, that he isn't enough, and that numbness means very very untrue.  I've experienced pain in many ways, some self inflicted, some involuntary but every time I respond the same....I let time numb all wounds. I become self dependent and I become a little more callous... "still I remained treasured in the eyes of my God"

2 Corinthians 4:7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

God doesn't let it stop there. My weakness is what makes me worthy of inheritance he so freely gives. My weakness is what God desires FOR me (not what I want but what I need). Weakness is what allows Christ to be Christ in my heart. Yet, in this, my weakness catches my sin's eye and my sin takes full advantage..."oh my soul faint not, oh my soul keep up" please soul don't give in....I completely understand why we sing the lyrics, bind my wandering heart to thee...I know my sin will kidnap my heart and hold it hostage to despair. But Father, I'm begging you "remind me of love, remind of you" don't let that happen, keep me weak, keep me broken, do it God, cuz 90% of the time I don't want it and I don't mean it, but the 10% is what matters-it's the 10% that reminds me its not about me, that in my weakness there is so much JOY!

 James 1:2-4 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.''

Soooo "father, help me see myself through your eyes," because in your eyes you have already seen my journey, you mapped it out. In your eyes you see the completion, you see the daughter you always intended me to be, so help me see her. Help me embrace my weakness and your strength. Help me keep eyes on your eyes; they are prone to wander Lord I feel it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

the mountain is shifting but the valley remains the same...

So I'm sitting here and I'm reading my dear friend Kacie Lynn's blog (she is on the world race) and her teammates blogs and I'm reading about how God is doing big amazing things in their lives in Nepal. With each blog I read and as the months go by I cant help but think, I wish I was on the world race (which is somewhat ironic as Kacie Lynn's teammate posted a video in which Kacie Lynn says "don't you wish you were on the world race")... I wish I were doing something with my life that felt important. I wish I were experiencing God in big ways. my next thought was very different...

I began to think about all the commitments I have and i thought about school and Young Life and how I "have" to do all these things and I have all these expectations and responsibilities so clearly I can't go across the world. Then I thought about all the money it would cost to go, and how if I go I would have student loans to pay as well and how would that work? I'm reading these beautiful blogs filled with hope and joy and healing. Like God literally using the hands of my friend and her friends to heal the wounded and sick while simultaneously healing their own hearts; restoring them to this place of honor and making them creatures of blessings anew, daughters/sons of the King, and His most precious beloved-- but where does my mind wander to? skepticism. doubt. fear. the unknown. and I forget the promises he made me.

Psalm 85:8
I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants

Isaiah 40:10-11 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him,  and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

Romans 8:15
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
All of psalms 23!

And yet I choose to live in darkness? I am no longer held captive to bondage, I am a child of light. I have been promised whatever my heart desires and it desires God. I want so desperately to see God move that I am choosing to believe that He only moves mountains. Then I am reminded...I am reminded of something Dennis Fuller said in a lesson; he said we go to the mountain top to gain perspective, but the valley is where transformation happens. So whether I am on the top of Mount Everest in India, or the Appalachians in Pigeon Forge TN, the Karoo mountains in South Africa, or the Sierra Madre that runs through most of South America it is the valley I am made to be like him. It is the valley of Murfreesboro Tennessee he has called me to. He has made it clear that when I walk through the valley he is with me.

I can best describe it as that incredible corny footprints poem you find on tapestries and hand towels at the flea market that talks about a man reflecting on his life and he sees himself walking with the Lord on the beach and he is having flash backs on his life. He sees foot prints in the sand, one set his, the other set- God's, but he gets distraught because in the hard times he sees one set of footprints on the beach and he's mad-- he things God has left him there. God looks at him and snickers and says those were the times I carried you stupid. OK he doesn't say stupid but c'mon it's off a tapestry. Anyways, point being, I'm in the valley of middle Tennessee- somewhere between the Appalachians and the Himalayas and I'm being transformed. But all I can think is how can I afford to get to the mountain top to meet God? I DON'T HAVE 3000 DOLLARS! (in this moment I picture God busting out laughing) and then I remember...

Its the valley I'm called to. It's the valley that gives me the strength to climb the mountain. It is the valley I am promised rest and peace, security and protection, and life renewed. The mountain is shifting, but the valley remains the same place that I am called to meet him, to be carried, to be sustained. To find LIFE FULFILLED...

Now if I can only keep my eyes fixed on that; that insures there are many blogs to come.