Thursday, May 9, 2013

Consider Him

At church on Saturday, we took a week break from our chronological study through the gospels and went through the passage of Hebrews 12:1-3.

(Click here for the powerful message by guest speaker Pastor Brent)

"Let us lay aside every weight...and run this race with endurance...looking  unto Jesus..."

We dove deeper into the passage last night at small groups and went over some of these questions as we reviewed our lives in light of the scripture:

-Evaluate the components in your life and ask yourself, "Is it a wing or a weight?"
-How do you endure the obstacles you are facing?
-How do you walk alongside others when they need the strength to endure an obstacle?
-How do we endure in this race and stay focused on the goal of the ministry of reconciliation?

We talked about how even good things can be weights in your life if it is not helping you grow toward the purpose God has for you in your season of your walk with Him.

But HOW do we make these decisions? HOW do we find the strength and motivation to endure our current or future trials during this race of our Christian life?

We cannot do it in our own strength- in ourselves, we do not contain the ability.
That is why the writer of Hebrews wrote these two powerful phrases of instruction:

"Looking unto Jesus..."


"Consider Him..."

The power of knowing Jesus and spending time with Jesus and seeking Jesus cannot be overemphasized. It is not part of the process.
It IS the process.

It is reading His Word so that we know what He has endured, and what He has said, and what He has done.

It is spending time at His feet in prayer and seeking His heart.

It is grabbing members of your fellowship and praying together with them.

It is receiving His Spirit and being empowered by Him. (Acts 1:8)

It is seeking Him in ALL things.

It is asking for His perspective in ALL things.

It is surrendering to His care and His will.

It is "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was before Him (that's us!) endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

He has already won the victory! So today, this week, in our lives, let's bring Him into everything.

Consider Him.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rest Well, My Friend

My Friend, you are doing a good job. 

A good job.

Let me gently remind you of this.

It is good to rest.

It is purposeful and you are accomplishing much by resting.

I love you so much, my friend.  Your ambitious heart and your capable hands have accomplished much and accomplished it well.  You have brought much glory to the Lord through your obedience of action and through your ability to steward well in a short amount of time the gifts that He has entrusted you with. 

But your actions have never made Him love you more.

And your abilities have never given you more worth.

You know this, my friend.  You know that all your worth is found in your identity in Him.  You yourself have encouraged me well in this. 

Allow yourself the space you need.  Take the time to just sit - to feel.  He has called you to rest - you glorify Him by obeying Him.  He is your Heavenly Father - He cares for you.  He knows intimately the details of the season before this time of rest.  And He knows how He is preparing you for what lies after this time of intentional stillness. 

And yes, my friend, it is intentional.  There is much purpose in it.  I know how much you like to feel purposed and accomplished.  Remember that God has called you to this season intentionally.  You know some of the reasons.  Some of the reasons are a mystery that God is working out. 

Take the pressure off yourself.  Let your commitments change as needed.  Let your standards change as needed.  Ask yourself, "What is the highest priority between me and God right now?"

And if that priority is sitting by the fire, journal by your side and pen in your hand, and thinking and dreaming of the thoughts in your heart right now - then with full intention - take the time to do that.

Rest my Friend,
and Rest Well.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Three Months

For twelve Tuesdays in a row, a group of between 8-14 ladies gathered every week to study the book of Daniel. 

In my home. 

As we got to the end of our last gathering last night, ladies began thanking me for hosting it.

"Thank you!"-  I wanted to tell them -  "You don't know what joy it brought me!!"

For over 5 years, every since I've been married, it has been my desire to host Bible study in my home.  But with both my husband and I being a full time students, working full time, moving 3 times, and having almost continuous construction in our current home over the last few years, the timing just hadn't worked out. 

That is, until these past three months - a joyful three months!  Three months of Tuesday being my favorite night of the week. 

Three months of women sitting on couches given to me for free, talking around a table that was given to me for free, and watching Beth Moore teachings on a TV given to me for free.  And three months of women not caring how or where I got my furniture - but simply gathering on and around it to engage in fellowship.

Three months of women sitting on the floor because there wasn't enough spots on the couches and three months of washing their hands and putting their purses in a restroom that still has yet to be fully completed from our construction. 

Three months of women bringing snacks and sipping coffee and of sharing tears and laughs and prayer needs and three months of watching God answer those very prayers!  Three months of learning one another's hearts, and lives, and needs and learning to pray over those things for each other.

Three months of studying hard and of learning that scripture is not always about us but it is always for us!  Three months of learning that we are capable of understanding more than we think we are and of applying ourselves to be diligent to learn God's Word.

For three months these women came - despite the imperfections of the house, despite the imperfection of each other, and even despite the imperfections in themselves, they came and gave of themselves.  And they accepted each other.  Embraced each other.  Loved each other.

So to my Bible study ladies, my sisters, thank you!!

I feel like my house has now been christened!  Hosting Bible study has made my little house finally feel like home to me.  I feel like I belong more to my home now that it has been a place of gathering for us women to grow more in the knowledge of the Word and in unity with each other.
You have all been a part of bringing one of my biggest desires come to reality!
I love you all and am full of joy and thankfulness as I reflect on our three months together. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rest for Today

It's been an amazing year so far.

The past 12 days of 2013 have been full, stretching and exhilarating.
Friendships have grown.  Ministry has been developing.  Fellowship has blossomed.   Relationships have been poured into.  Work has been stimulating.  Marriage has been engaging and blessed.

But today?
I need some rest. 

But what does rest look like?  I think that depends on what part of your person-hood needs the rest.  Is it physical rest you need? Or is it emotional?  Spiritual?

For me, I often hit the point where I need rest in all three areas at once.  Usually when I've depleted one area, I rely on another area to sustain me - depleting that area as well.  Then, when I've exhausted all three, I admit to myself that it's time for some rest.
Some intentional, introverted, all-by-myself rest. 

So for me, today, rest looks like sleeping in until 10:00 am and laying in bed until the need for caffeine takes over.  Pouring myself a cup of coffee, sitting back in bed and surrounding myself with the items that help me process and rest spiritually and emotionally.

Sitting in bed surrounded by my new, super comfortable 50% off pillows, with the heater up and the window cracked open to let in fresh light and cool air.  (physical rest)

Journal and pen nearby.  Computer laying ahead of me.  Sometimes writing, sometimes just knowing it's near if I want to write to process more thoughts.  (emotional rest)

Bible lying next to me, open to one of the 4 books I am studying right now.  Lying available for me to read or to set back down as needed.  (spiritual rest)

This is what rest looks like for me today.

I'll get out of my pink pajamas and boot slippers eventually.  At some point the laundry will get put away and the vacuuming will be done.

But until I am physically, emotionally and spiritually filled again - I will rest. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

One Word 365 - Faith

I love how God always seems to choose my yearly "OneWord" for me.

On New Year's Even in 2010, I had already chosen a word to focus on for 2011 and a few hours before midnight, I could sense that God was changing it to something I never would of thought of.  "Warrior." 
That was an amazing year of getting over fears and gaining courage and strength in the Lord.

In 2012, I focused on the word "Joy."
Initially I didn't really want that word, but I knew that God was calling me to it.  How glad I am now!  I learned so much this year about the true meaning of the word Joy and where it's source is!  I already knew this intellectually as a Christian, but this year I have come to know inwardly that our Joy is truly not dependent on circumstances.  When we find our delight in the Lord, our Joy is unshakable because He is unchangeable.

This year, 2013, I feel God calling me to the word, "Faith."

It was a few days before the end of the year and I had been asking God what my word should be. As I was driving to do an errand, I was listening to the book of Hebrews.  When it got to chapter 11, "The Hall of Faith" my spirit quickened -  "That's it!"  
Then I remembered back to a couple months ago when a word of knowledge had been given to me at a Bible Study one night...
Just a simple word that God wanted to increase my faith.

2013 is a really good year for some faith building.  My husband and I are involved in a church plant in Orange County right now and every step is building and stretching our faith.  It is most likely the most exciting time of my life thus far and as I am seeing God move within His body I am being so stretched and called to more faith in who He is, in His power, and to who we are called to be in Him.
I also have personal dreams and desires that I have been seeking God about and I want to learn to have my faith in Jesus and in His perfect will rather than in my desire for my own dreams to be fulfilled.

I am excited to watch as God does His work in me this year.  For two years now, I have seen the Holy Spirit be so faithful as He has called me to a certain focus and then has done all the work in my heart.

My job this year is to obey.

I must use the skills I learned when I focused on being a "Warrior" and not let fear hold me back from anything Jesus calls me to in 2013.
I must remember the formation of Joy - that no matter what happens this year, my Joy is not dependent on what is seen circumstantially but on what I know to be true of Jesus Christ and the loving and holy character of God.

I am ready to grow.

I am ready to be stretched.

I am ready to Jump out in Faith.

Also - I'm putting together a "Faith 2013" playlist to be listening to this year - any suggestions for good songs on faith - please put them in the comments!

Here's one song I'm loving everyday:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

4th Quarter Challenge

The Word of God is amazing.

Yes, I am talking about the BIBLE.

It is SO awesome.

I have always enjoyed sitting and reading my Bible.  Of course, I'm just like any other Christian who has had their seasons of not reading diligently, or not have a desire to read for a long-ish period of time, but overall, I enjoy sitting (when I discipline myself to do it) and reading the Word.

But I have never read the Bible cover-to-cover, beginning to end.  I'm sure at this point in my Christian walk, I've read most of it.  But there was so much, especially in the Old Testament, that still seemed foreign to me.

In June of this year, I decided to read the Bible straight through in a year.  I was doing well until I hit the middle of Leviticus.  Yep, that's where it gets really hard to keep plowing through.  So I basically stopped reading (except for my devotional reading) until a few weeks ago when our church announced the 4th Quarter Challenge.

The challenge is simple: read through the Bible in the last quarter of the year.

The whole Bible in 3 months.

Ya, right.  

But then my husband started doing it and I didn't want to be left out.  Plus, I already had the first couple books under my belt from the summer.

Now, I can't stop.  I LOVE it.

I'm super thankful for the iphone app because it allows me to listen to most of my reading while I'm running reports at work or while I'm driving.  And I get a lot out of listening because it slows me down and makes me hear e.v.e.r.y word.

Being immersed in the Word is changing me.  It is giving me a better understanding of God's character - His Holiness and Righteous - and the more I learn about the Old Testament the more I am blown away by His Grace and His mercy!

The Word is a mirror that reveals our soul and our utter sinfulness as mankind.  But this makes me evermore grateful for the steadfast love of our Savior who has chosen to love me and bestow completely undeserved grace on me! The more I read about God's righteousness through His Word, I can't believe His great love in choosing to call me as one of His children.  And that it what makes me fall in awe at the feet of His Grace.

His Word is making me fall more and more in love with Him.  

It makes me think of the words of the chorus of one of my favorites songs:

Give me Jesus. 
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have ALL this world,
but give me Jesus.

All I want in this life is Jesus and I can't wait for Heaven so that I can just be in His presence forever!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fullness of JOY

Without you, Jesus, I would have no joy in the sunset.

Without you, I would find no happiness in in any possessions; No latest item of fashion or car or house would fill me. 

Without you, my soul would be a vacuum, craving and feeding - craving and feeding, but never feeling full.

It is because You are my God that I take pleasure in this life. 

It is because this world is NOT my final home and is not my true dwelling place, that I can take joy in living here on earth.

It is because I know the Creator of the sun and the waves and the sand, that I can delight in a love for the ocean. 

It is because I know You!!!

Lord, when I don’t feel you near me, when I lose sight of who I am in You, not even my favorite things satisfy me.  When I have forgotten my understanding of what You have given me, now and eternally, my heart hardens and life becomes dull.

But Lord! Oh Lord!  When you give me the sweetness of Your presence no circumstances around me matter!  I could delight in your presence in the midst of construction, at the edge of the waves, or in the front seat of my car.  Nothing is sweet than those glimpses of eternity, nothing is sweet than knowing You!

It is knowing You that brings me joy during my times of prosperity.  When my troubles lesson and when provision is generous, I glory in the pleasures You allow me because they are gifts from You.  A dinner out with my husband, a new dress, a fresh bouquet of flowers on the table – these are all expressions of my love for You – of who I have been made to be – an unique expression of Your image. 

It is knowing You that brings me hope in more uncertain times.  It is understanding that I have been created in Your image, that You have called me as Your child, and that I have an inheritance as a daughter of God Most High that brings me purpose.  It is knowing this to be my destiny that allows me to submit in leaner times and to still delight in Your presence.

Lord Jesus, God Most High!  Worthy are You and all Your works!  In every season of my life, may my lips always utter praise!

Yes, Lord.  Yes, Lord!  In Your presence there is truly fullness of JOY.