Friday, June 13, 2014

Remember who the real enemy is, Katnis....

You know, sometimes life can suck. Plain and simple. Its just like the song "ironic," anything that can go wrong, will...Rain on your wedding day, a thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, or the ever so classic- every light turns red when your running late. If you believe in karma, these are the moments you think, "I really shouldn't have cut that dude off yesterday." I don't believe in karma but I do feel the effects of a plain ole bad day.

Have you ever noticed that things go horribly wrong when you've felt a calling on your heart? Or when things start to get easy? Or when you've just paid off a major debt? I don't subscribe to coincidence. In fact, very plainly I've been told they are purposeful.


The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy...john 10:10a


1 peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 



It is no secret...we've got someone against us. Maybe not every bad thing that happens is a personal attack but we absolutely know there are forces conspiring against us. Its not just a cheesy movie line. 


This enemy lurks in the most common places. He lurks in our homes, relationships, jobs, in traffic, in our churches, everywhere...and he LOVES to cause chaos.


BUT, there is always a but....


...BUT I come to give you life abundant! John 10:10b


We may have an enemy who causes chaos and trouble but we have a sovereign God and his heart is for order, peace, and reconciliation. (Amongst lots of other things)


But is that always our hearts? Do I always want to respond to the internal and external chaos the way Christ would ask me to? No of course not. Especially not when that chaos is in my relationships. Because that means I have to lay myself aside. If I'm being totally honest then I have to admit I hate conflict, I avoid it at all cost and when its unavoidable then my shields go up. I dont want to be disrespected, I don't want to be wrong, and I most certainly don't want to choose to let someone else "win".....and there lies the problem.


The purpose of conflict is always going to reconciliation. Always! As long as God is still sovereign. And he is, so there's that. He told told us a long time ago that he would send his son, like a lamb to the alter table, to reconcile us to himself. If he desires peace between him and us, then he desires the same peace for us between each other. 


That peace can't exsist if I choose myself first. That peace can't exsist if I go into conflict looking for a clear winner or loser. That peace can only exsist if I follow in his footsteps....


And no greater love has anyone known than this, that one lay down his life for friend. John 15:13


It stings deep every time I hear it...I cannot be living out Christ's love or His peace if my desire is to be right, to speak my mind unfiltered, or to have things my way. And if I speak or live without love I'm just noise, right? (1 Corinthians 13:1)


Its hard to choose others first especially when life chooses to give you a knuckle sandwich square between the eyes. Or when it seems its all you can do to stay a float. Or when they are wrong. Or when you're the one wrong and humility is not what you signed up for. (Is that just me?) Or when life just gets chaotic and you just want to get to work on time for once. Or when life gets really dark and its clear to see without a shadow of doubt the darkness lurking around.


We have an enemy, family. The God we serve seeks order, he stirs chaos. The God we serve calls us to unity, he stirs up petty strife. The God we serve seeks redemption, he stirs up embitterment and grudges. The God we serve is willing to die for what he loves, but the enemy wants nothing more than eternal death for us.


 So fam, we have to stand resolve. We have to fight for each other, not against- we aren't the enemy here, he is (Ephesians 6:12). Just like in catching fire, when katnis is ready to shoot finnick because she doesn't trust him in the games. But then in a stern, serious tone he yells out to her, "remember who the real enemy is, katnis." Immediately her bow drops because she is reminded that the games is temporary and there is a much bigger foe to fight. She remembers in the midst of chaos who the real enemy is. We HAVE to be able to do the same. So then we can stand together; picking each other up when we fall down. Reminding each other of truths when the other forgets. Speaking the very words of life against the enemy God himself spoke! And taking courage we aren't at this alone!




1 peter 5: 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.


After all, this is temporary. We've been called to something much more eternally significant. A glory that vastly out weighs any glory on this earth!


 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.


And in the end, after we endure all the strife the enemy stirs up in and around us; Christ has a promise for us....IT WILL BE WORTH IT!


So good, isn't it?!





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fruits of the Mouth, Feeding the Soul.




There's nothing quite like language to speak to the soul. No sarcasm intended...

I mean don't get me wrong, there are all kinds of way my soul finds comfort. Oh how I love the warmth of a hot tea/chocolate on a cold day that warms me to my core with every sip! I love a beautiful sunset on the horizon that gives the earth a warm, cozy light right before bed! I absolutely love it when I have found a painting or photograph that evokes emotion that sends chills over my body, or simply draws my eye into it so cleverly that I am captivated by it! Whatever it is, there is beauty all around that ignites passion within our beings but there just isn't anything quite like language...

Like a good book, maybe by Jane Austen, that has this gorgeous language that makes you wish you were British. Or an article you read that has sparked intrigue just within the first sentence. Or an old hymn that  brings you to tears while simultaneously healing. It's within movies, songs, everyday dialog- the sweet spoken words that bring joy.

 


For me, it never fails when I have a good conversation with a friend I always walk away feeling passionate. Whether it's for change or just brotherly love, it doesn't matter it stirs something in me. It is a stirring my soul longs for. It can be found in a good blog filled with truth and vulnerability written so eloquently. I immediately feel a soul connection to that person even if I have never met them. It cannot be helped, language draws in and bonds. They say actions speak louder than words, however words give off a volume all their own. They have power! Power to motivate, to ignite creativity, to inspire, to encourage, to give life!

I've decided the one constant factor in every life giving communication- song, literature, conversations, art, sign language, all of it- is the precious, rare exchanging of hearts! In a culture like ours, going morally bankrupt, where everyone values privacy due to the mass exposure we experience everyday- it's so rare to be given someone's exposed heart. The one and only soul of a person, intricately knit by the Almighty, it's more precious than Gold! What makes this exchange so precious? It's the fulfillment of one of our core desires- to know and be known! It's what we are all looking for right? Intimacy with another?

 Oh but how quickly I can be to forget and fail to realize. I forget the intimacy in the GIVING and RECEIVING of a heart. I fail to realize that in the stock market of life there is a vast shortage in the exchanging of souls. I forget the value in lifting that soul up and if I am not careful I fail to seek the value in another. I forget the language I use, day in and day out, verbal and non, is the tool I've been given to reflect light and life....it is a delicate tool, too.

"Wise words are like deep waters;
    wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook."

"The mouths of fools are their ruin;
    they trap themselves with their lips."

 "Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest."

 "Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose."
                                                       -proverbs 18


But I don't want to forget! I want to always remember that I am to be the hands and feet that bring the good news. That I want the meditation of my heart to be acceptable. I  always want to be a safe place for hearts to find rest because of the great kindness and love of the most high King! I want my language to be nothing more than the arrow that points back to our rock, our  salvation, and our redeemer! My hope is I never choose to feed people poison. But my abilities are weak and fainting, so my prayer is this..
.


  Jesus, be the discernment I need to know when to speak and when to listen. Always remind me of the intimacy in giving and receiving hearts and to find sacredness in every soul I come in contact with. Let your gentleness be the symbol I wear, let your purity be my adornment, and your love be the song on my lips. Keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies. Give me clean hands to carry the gospel and put righteousness on my feet to go to the broken and weary. You be the fruits of my mouth and keep the worldliness inside me and around me from speaking poison. For the sake of your people and for your glory, protect my heart from being a vessel of death, but instead make me an ambassador of light. Your name is higher than the rising sun, and I pray the world see your light and is forever changed by it just as YOU said!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Welcome to adulthood....you're in for one heck of a ride!

So in the car the other day, as kim and I headed to jackson, she looked at me and said I don't know what I want to do with my life." To which my response was "welcome to the club!" If you are 20 something (or older) you know the club I'm talking about...

After that what followed was a simple but loaded question...What does it mean to really be an adult?  Taking into account I am no expert I cautiously approached the question.  I shared with her what I've learned/am still learning... And now with you. Please, bare with me as I process!

Well from what I am learning, being an adult doesn't mean having your life figured out. It doesn't mean having the right job or a family or house or a college degree. Even if those things are obtained, does that necessarily mean that adulthood is obtained with it? As a kid I always thought that I would grow up and go to college and get a great job and build a big fancy house and have everyone I loved live in that house with me and my 4 dogs. Yes, 4 dogs. I imagined lots of land and a pool and a good life. However, I never imagined what it meant to be an adult.  I just assumed that it came with the title, that I would grow into it. But truth is, it just doesn't work that way.


Kims response was such a great way to summarize this thought. She said "so it's when paul said when I was a child I thought like a child, I acted like a child but when I became a man I put away childish things." Yes, yes it is just like that. I love how well kim easily brings scripture into perspective. She's a rock star.


As children we live in fantasy.  Nothing wrong with that at all, we need it. Children desperately need imagination and adults could use a little more of it. However, there inevitably comes a time where I have to put aside the childish reasoning and desires and begin looking to a new way of logic. I have to mature. We all do, Paul makes that clear in his letter to the Corinthians. But what does it look like to walk that out?

Well I'm still learning, still seeking scripture and guidance. However, based on the conversations I've had with mentors revolved around this very topic there are 2 conclusions I've come to...

My first conclusion is this,  life is not a road map and at each check point you get better, finding out the answers to life with each stop as if we are on a perpetual upswing. (We all know life is much more like a pendulum.)  The "we get better as time goes on" isn't always what it seems....yes, with age comes experience and perspective and yes, there are good, practical life skills that come out of those experiences but life is a lot messier than that. Growing old doesn't necessarily mean growing up, and it definitely doesn't mean maturing. There is only one place to find the answers to life and to maturation and it reassures us constantly that this world just ain't got it! If I cling to life experiences on earth to navigate me through adulthood and expect it to give me what I need; I, my friends, am in for a rude awakening.


Second, and on an even deeper level, sometimes being an adult means doing whatever is necessary not desireable. In fact Sunday in my financial peace class Dave Ramsey said this, "part of maturing means delaying desire." I'm going to be 100% transparent here. I really struggle with this one. I've had this conversation more times than I care to admit. I've been called out on living frivolously and I've had to really learn how to face things in life that I just didn't want to deal with. My fall in action is running away in fear and ultimately out of selfish preservation. But I can say this with deepest sincerity, delaying the inevitable only causes harm and it is NOT living out authentic adulthood. As a wise woman once told me, there is just something to doing whatever it takes to (insert need here) and you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. I can't speak for you but I can for me and I am so incredibly thankful for mercy, deep abiding mercy in these moments because I really have to expose my depravity when it comes to walking out a Christ centered adulthood. Simply put, I fall short.

See Christ calls us to face the world head on, not to shy away from it but rather to invade the world around us. When paul says to put away the child his following statement is that nothing else will last in this world but faith, hope, and love. The greatest is love. In order for me to love the world around me well I have to set aside my childish desires and frivolous living. I have to learn to walk out taking care of myself so I can play my part in taking care of the body; so we can go together out into the world and be the hands and feet of Christ. I am called to this, I am not asked- I am commanded to go to the world with the gospel. I can't do that if I can't be a good steward of every resource he has given me, especially myself. We live in a cause/effect world and as a christ follower I have a responsibility to it; it simply cannot be ignored or ran from.

Feeling encouraged yet? Neither was Kim. Nor I, when I've had these same conversations. I struggle not to feel condemned by my own sin and not to feel overwhelmed by all the things I "need" to change or do in order to live all this out right. My mind cant help but replay all the ways I do this life all wrong. Well here's where I can be encouraged and where I pray you feel encouraged as well....

I AM INCAPABLE OF DOING ANY OF THIS ON MY OWN AND GOD NEVER ASKED ME TO!!! I  CANNOT be better, I can't change my nature, I am unable to mature on my own, I will not love on my own accord, I can not carry the weight of the body of Christ on my shoulders. I can't but He can. He did. He does. He will continue to. While I find it impossible to accomplish just one of those things on my own, Christ has already accomplished them all and so much more! I could sit around feeling sorry and bad about myself because I have come up short, or I can choose to lay it down and do what he does ask of me. The same simple request he made to a couple fishers, a tax collector, and some other random dudes he asks of me..."Follow me." I can put down my nets, let go of the past and start out by just simply going where he goes. Following him wherever he leads....one step at a time trusting him.

 I struggle to walk life out well, to live out authentic, transparent adulthood. I'm no where near perfection. But I'm encouraged by the fact that I was never asked to be perfect yet Christ promised he would create perfection in me anyway. In spite of all the times I fail him, fail myself, fail the people around me he still chooses to do life with me. He chose to come here and show us what it looks like to walk out adulthood perfectly then chose to go home to his father where he sent his spirit to do it with us if we just choose to get up and go. What an incredibly gracious, loving, giving, patient God. How humbling he chose me!

So like I said, I'm no expert. I claim no authority over the answer to the complex question over adulthood that has been asked time and time again. The only claim I make is that Christ has all authority in heaven and earth. But I will gladly share what I've learned about this adult club we all have waited so long to join- it will look bumpy and messy a lot of times. It will be hard and not at all what I or you expected other times, BUT you aren't in it alone and Christ lived and died to give us a full life, not an imaginary life. I gladly tell you all this in hopes you are encouraged and if at the very least to say, welcome to the club! I sure hope you choose to join in....there's nothing else on this earth like it!



Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10



1 corinthians 13: 8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year Has Come!

Happy New Years officially!

It's been a good year as always. Even when looking back over the year and seeing all the the ugly and hard and sad days; they still can't compete with the joy of knowing Christ is my savior and he is good! Not to mention he made me a promise that even those days would be valuable in my life. So yeah, It's been a good year and I hope you are reflecting back on your year and you see God's faithful provisions in your life as well. Maybe later I'll tell you about mine and how he has been good to me this year.
Anyways moving forward, which is exactly what new years celebration is all about. Forward moving, leaving the past behind and looking to what's ahead! Straight out of Philippians 3! I know that now as an adult. I see how on the the last day of the year looking at the past 364 days squeezed into a short series of thoughts and assessing its worth or lessons, its turmoil and providence, is a fairly big deal. As a kid I never understood the occasion. I didn't understand why I had to miss out on sleeping to watch a ball fall out of the sky, and lots of people dressed up like its Marti gras make out, popping bottles, and blowing obnoxious horns wearing obscene hats. And then our family would talk about their resolutions for the year which I definitely didn't understand. Why make a promise just because tomorrow's date has a different number on the end? Granted I was a child and for me the best resolve I had was to get in less trouble. Nevertheless, it's still, in my mind, a plausible question. Why make a resolution? Do we even know what that really means to be resolute?
Resolute:
1. firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion.
2. characterized by firmness and determination, as the temper, spirit, action etc.
synonyms: earnest, firm, fixed, steadfast, unwavering, undaunted.
That, in my opinion, is some pretty hefty stuff. It's not simply a, "this year I want to..." It's a total take over, complete change. A resolution marks us, it identifies our character, our spirit, our action, etc. It was intended to be set in determination for accomplishment, something that there are no backsies or crossed fingers on. Like our founding fathers for example; they resolved that this nation would be its own, belonging to its people, following its own standards of justice, a network of people held together by a common conviction and for them to fail was not an option. They lived, breathed, ate, were the resolution they wanted to see at all cost...including their lives. When have I ever felt the earnestness of soul to BECOME the embodiment of the change I want to see? Really? I can tell you this-its not often and for me its not once a year either.
In one hundred percent human honesty, I don't believe I have the innate character to dedicate myself like that. There are lots of good things to resolute and lots of things in our ever-changing society that tells us we should resolve to: new bodies, social justices, time worthy activities, etc. But for me, is it worth it?
I don't know if that is true for you but for me in the very same breath I speak that level of apathy my spirit sings His praises. I serve a God of fervent, NEVER CHANGING conviction. In a world where resolution is to much of a commitment for me, lives the God who resolved before time began to commit himself to me. Where I feel anxiety by my character being marked or defined by my resolution, sits a God on his throne that branded his character loving, good, and constant for all of eternity. I serve a God unaffected by changes in time. A God who isn't apathetic like I am. A God who is out to make me like him.
He wants me to love my brothers and sisters and to earnestly seek to serve them. He wants me to be resolved in telling the world of his loving kindness. To boldly go make disciples in his name. He wants me to obey him with firm conviction. He wants to give unwavering hope in a chaotic world. He wants to give me a heart of flesh not stone, hands and feet to serve, and eyes undaunted by the evils of this world. He is out to give me himself. My inherent nature may be to shy away from such commitment, but Christ being greater than me is in the process of purging that sinfulness and giving me a contrite spirit. He is giving me a resolute spirit like his own! He won't settle for my weak, pathetic soul. No, and since he knows I can't produce the ferocity it takes to become like him; he is good enough to take my life-less being and breathe newness into me! He is good to define me by his character not mine!
While my heart is still hard towards new year resolutions, his heart is privy to being resolute in changing me all together for all of eternity- one day, one year at a time until we meet in perfection face to face. But If I'm not careful I will miss all of this! I see best looking back, he sees all time mapped out before his eyes. This process that I often only take once a year to observe is going on all day everyday in the secret places of my heart only he knows. So if there is anything I need to resolve, it's to observe more and seek Him more- remembering He will bring about the changes in me because I can't.
So on the first day of 2014, looking back over the last year of my life I see where God has been faithful: faithful to provide, purge, convict, change, love, remain, grow, and lead. But mostly, I see how he has been faithful to give me more of himself and take away more of me. Just like he promised.
                     Hindsight is always 20/20.


If Anyone Is In Christ, He Is A New Creation, The Old Has Past The New Has Come! 2 Corinthians 5:17