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“Jesus: ‘Ah, but what about you? Who do you say that I am?’ Peter: ‘God’s Anointed, the Liberating King.'” -Luke 9:20 (the Voice)
Disclaimer: Here is my promise to you. Not every post I write will be heavy and burdensome. Some may be because that’s life. But for the most part, because of who God is, we will always end up taking His yoke upon us, which is light.
Day 3 and here is what I know. Rest takes time to acclimate to.
Whenever there is a shift in the speed, cadence or momentum of a thing (or an entire life) it can take some time to readjust. The problem (as I see it) is when there is not appropriate time or space for a shift to happen.
Here is what I mean. EVERYTHING changes and we keep on keeping on. At a pace that is no longer appropriate for the reality of our experience and existence. I think that is called survival.
So God clears space.
We don’t know what to do with the space so we fill the space, often times with the “usual” things God has just delivered us from, in order that we can continue to operate from a familiar place. Even though it no longer serves the season of our lives, it’s comfortable and it allows us the delusion of managing (uh hum…controlling) life.
Either God is who He says He is, or He is not. If He is, we can trust Him even when everything in us screams to take the bull by the horns and get to work.
New seasons take time to acclimate to. New seasons invite sobriety. New seasons require dropping the pin and relinquishing control of outcomes. It seems almost irresponsible, doesn’t it?
That, or wildly liberating.
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Spring has sprung here in the North and I am happy beyond words about it, for many reasons of course, but the biggest being the parrallel exit from the spiritual winter I’ve been in for months on end. When we get into the difficult and dark seasons of our faith, it is often hard to continue to seek Him in the silence. When our circumstances are less than ideal, let alone how we actually want them to be, is often when we begin to let our devotion slip. Fewer times in the Word, maybe a skipped Sunday morning service or Bible Study. The trouble with this is that our God’s way of thinking is quite opposite of ours, and it’s in these seasons of stillness that He’s doing some of His biggest work. It’s also often after these seasons that we find Him in a greater capacity than we ever could have before.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”- Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
What does it look like to seek Him with all of your heart? This is a very personal question, and one that I encourage you to take some time and meditate on. I think the first way to find the “how” can be found in looking at what your heart already seeks.
When you get a free minute what’s the first thing you are drawn to?
When you wake up what thoughts greet you in the morning?
While sitting at church where do you often find your mind wandering to?
And is there a theme between all of these things?
I would venture to say there is, because there is for me too. We are all cut from the same cloth of sin, so ours are not going to vary in many ways when we get down to the root. So how do we begin to seek Him with all of our hearts with these things in mind? We give them to Him in each and every moment.
I guarantee you this is not a fruitless endeavor.
“‘I will be found by you’, declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back from captivity.'”-Jeremiah 29:14 (NIV)
In this verse He is promising that He can and will be found. And that the blessing from seeking Him in the quiet of the darkness is that He will bring us back into the light of His sovereign plan over our lives. The degree of fullness and freedom that I feel walking out of the darkness and into the light is indescribable. What’s more, I have no shame, only joy. Because I know that over all, I stuck with Him. There have been many seasons where I haven’t. But this time I did. And He was found.
Where are you today and where do you want Him to bring you back to? How can you begin to seek Him with your whole heart?
Interested in becoming a Holy Yoga Instructor? Click here to begin your Holy Yoga story.
I went to sleep last night on a wet pillow. St. John of the Cross would call it a dark night of the soul. I call it familiar.
Listen, before you start citing me well meaning verses, you need to know that I know Him. I know He is good and that He has plans to prosper me and that what He has promised WILL happen. I know His Word is true and that His Spirit is comfort that surpasses all understanding. I know He is my shield and my strength and that His portion is more than enough.
But why then does it seem the enemy is winning? Why doesn’t it seem like my Savior has come yet? Lord knows I have been crying out. I’ve been lamenting (and praising…but lots of lamenting). The Psalms say that He hears the heart of the afflicted and He comes. He changes things, and He wins…because His Love never fails.
Then why does it feel like the enemy is winning? My enemy is prowling around like a lion and he is pulling out all the stops to get me to buy into the lies that God has set me free from.
I am not worth loving.
My children will inherit the sins of the generation before me.
I will be left for something better.
If given a choice, people will choose someone other than me.
And everyone has the power of free choice, right? So where does that leave a little girl lost? I mean a woman found and saved by grace, but the little girl abandoned inside of this woman of faith. She’s easy prey.
I need faith today. Today has to be a day that He believes for me because I cant believe for myself. He has to give me eyes and a heart that can hope for what has not yet been seen. Today is a day where if doubt disqualified me from faith, I would be out.
When Jesus appeared before His disciples, the Word in Matthew 28:17 tells us that “When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but some doubted”.
The word doubt in Matthew 28:17 means to withdraw from one, desert, to separate one’s self in a hostile spirit, to oppose, strive with dispute, contend and to be at variance with one’s self. To hesitate.
Doubt is a powerful tool in the hands of the enemy. It can get us to desert the One we know is Faithful. It can get us to separate ourselves from Him and others in a hostile spirit. To oppose His promises and to strive IN dispute of His goodness. It can (by definition) cause us to be at war with ourselves and to hesitate in our faith.
Here is the relieving news. Doubt doesn’t disqualify the Chosen. Even the ones closest to Christ, who saw him with their own human eyes, resurrected from the dead, doubted. In His great mercy and compassion, He didn’t rebuke them. Instead He extended His power to them and invited them into the fullness of co-mission with Him.
Have you even had one of those days? Or, like me, one of those seasons? I am reminded today that Christ is not at all offended by my doubt. He is strengthening my faith by reaching for my hand and placing it to His side as a reminder that He does win.
Here’s something we can all believe in today. His Love wins and even in the darkest places, He is there. He is coming. And He alone saves.
Hey Friends –
Happy Tuesday! Join me over at the Holy Yoga blog today as we celebrate community in His body.
I dont want you to miss out of the goodness.
See you there!
I heard it at least 50 times and from just about everyone I know last week. I am…Overwhelmed. And not the good kind of overwhelmed either. It was the kind of statement that was usually followed by a string of possibilities at remeding a monumental impending fallout.
I myself often feel overwhelmed. We all have a lot of roles we play. Mother, wife, sister, friend, leader, student, co-worker, boss, etc. On average we are anywhere between 2 and 5 of those at any given time on any given day. Realizing that, its a wonder any of us are anything other than overwhelmed.
Here is the thing about overwhelm, its exhausting and lonely. Overwhelm, in that sense anyway, feels like the whole world is resting on your shoulders. It feels like failure and defeat. It feels like the voice in your head that says “I told you so” is right. It feels like the very last straw…you know, the one that actually breaks the camels back.
Side note…is it always the same camel? or like camels in general? Because camels are incredibly strong. It would take a lot of straw. Unless it was the same camel…and then I am afraid he would be buried by all that straw well before it would break his back. Just sayin’.
I got to wondering… what is the remedy for overwhelm? Yes yes, I know what you are thinking. Make a list. Prioritize it. Delegate. Pray. Read the Bible. Spend time with God. Get on your mat. Blah Blah Blah. But all of those are short term modifications that rarely give lasting relief. In fact, if we commit to doing all the above and fall short, the tools we put in place to alleviate our overwhelm become the source of overwhelm themselves.
And so the hamster wheel spins.
Maybe the answer is to redefine overwhelm. Maybe (like most words) overwhelm has another meaning. Maybe if it meant something other than defeat, then when I used it, it would illicit a different response.
In Matthew 28, when Jesus gives the great commission and says “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The word baptize means (get this) to overwhelm. It also means to cleanse by submerging.
It seems as if The Lord is saying “ As my disciples, your inheritance gives you part with me in my authority. The authority that is over all of heaven and all of earth. Knowing that, go. Go wherever I have placed you. Working in whatever influence I have given you with whatever group of individuals I have placed you in. Overwhelm them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Clearly, paraphrase mine)
The word God uses for overwhelm in our co-mission with Christ spins our understanding, doesn’t it? To baptize is to overwhelm. The power of the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, overwhelms. It saturates and consumes but when it does, it brings LIFE. It breaks no backs nor buries its beloved. It defends and it defeats.
The next time I am feeling overwhelmed, I will choose to take Him at His Word and remember that He is able to do immeasurably more than anything I could ever hope for or imagine. Overwhelm has a new meaning, friends, and that is very good news.
Kyle Pals Said that “partial obedience is disobedience”. I wish it weren’t. I wish I could get away with giving 95% of my life over to sanctification, to rely on what I know about God or what He has expected of me in the past, but that’s not the way it is.
God asks me daily for full obedience. In every area of life. In the exposed places and in the secret places. I used to think that the places I elected to expose were less vulnerable because they were available for accountability by people around me. But if God sees the heart it means everything, whether I am confessing it with my mouth or not, is exposed. It means that if I do “it” in the dark or in the light, it is seen. It means there are no “secret” places and there is no hiding.
I get caught in the trap of believing that what I have done this far in obedience to Christ is enough. I think I am familiar enough with what it takes to be in right standing with Him and I lean on my own understanding of what He needs today. I take my cues from what He has required of me in the past. While He is the God of yesterday, today and forever, He is talking to me about today. Not yesterday and not tomorrow.
I am reminded of how God told Saul to destroy the Amalekites. He said to leave NOTHING and NO ONE alive. He was clear how He wanted things to go and how He was intending to accomplish His plan. Saul just had to do what He said. And he did… about 95% of the way.
Saul kept some sheep and cows in order to make an offering to the Lord. I can’t help but relate. Isn’t that what the Lord always asked for? Wasn’t that law, the whole offering part? Surely Saul thought he was doing the right thing…the thing that the Lord had always wanted. Saul knew of this God…even if by his own admission it wasn’t his God. It leaves me wondering… if I were Saul, would I have thought something similar? In my rebellious humanness would I have thought “the sacrifice thing is a given. He knows I know that. He must have left that part out because its so obvious”. I would have been 100% wrong concerning that 5% of my obedience.
Obedience really is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22)
That 5% cost Saul his kingship. Samuel reminds Saul in a crushing exchange in 1 Sam 15, that while Saul thought of himself as small (insignificant and unworthy), God gave him all of this…and he didn’t listen to what God wanted THAT TIME. THAT DAY and in THAT CIRCUMSTANCE. God is a God of today and one of complete obedience.
I cant rely on what I think God is asking for today because He has asked for something similar yesterday. It could cost me everything. Partial obedience truly is disobedience.
A friend of mine was recently telling me about revival. How revivals work…and how they don’t.
He said that the three things that define a revival are:
1. The power of testimony
2. Prayer and
I was surprised the Word didn’t make the top three… But those three make sense. Revival by definition is a fresh and needed breath. Revival is always about refreshment in His presence and by His Spirit. Those three things draw us into the holiness of who God is at His simplest. I mean if you can simplify God.
While there are three things that inspire revival, there’s only one thing that destroys it.
Well meaning and well educated humans who love and live in Jesus. See, we start to think we add something to the work of God. We get so wrapped up in doctrine and theology and dissecting faith that we lose it. We forget that He is responsible for doing it all. All of it. We buy into the lie that we have something to add to His fullness. We assume we have something to do with the faith growth around us… and that we must be onto something if people around us are growing. News flash… We don’t.
Please don’t assume that ! don’t value the Word of God. I value it immensely because it is the revelation of God Himself and is profitable for teaching and training me up in faith.
It’s just when the study of the Word is not accompanied by prayer, worship, and an evidenced effect of God’s Godness on our personal lives that it loses something. Or maybe it loses everything.
We are called to be the fragrance of The Lord, a sweet aroma to those living and perishing alike. Our praises and our worship are a sweet aroma to Him; our prayers draw us into His inner sanctuary. And we can’t help but be affected by his presence. It’s in Him alone that we find out who we are and what we are living for. His Word is a lamp unto our feet and directs our steps on the path of holiness. We can’t just know the Word without living in the God it professes. If we do then we are missing the point and our words (as holy rehearsed as they may be) become resounding gongs bringing us glory.
We just can’t forget that His presence gives life; it gives way to transformation. And we can trust Him because his Word tells us that He is faithful and that we are sealed by the blood of Christ for the day of redemption. His Spirit was given to us a deposit. When we are in His presence we can trust what we experience because His Spirit deposited in us testifies with the fullness of His Holy Spirit.
Revivals used to last 70 years. Now the average one lasts 2. We’ve made too much of ourselves, friends. We’ve taken too much credit. Or at least I have.
So Lord… my life, my ministry, my marriage, my parenting and especially my leadership… I give back to you whole heartedly. I repent for the places I’ve taken responsibility for work only you can do.
Thanks for reminding me that you stayed on all sorts of hooks so I could be taken of all of mine.
Im asking for revival Lord. Now that I know my place. You promise refreshment. So come Lord, do not delay. In your strength and your presence alone will I find rest.
Come Lord. Breathe. Selah.
My best friend, Alisa, wrote a blog last week that gave voice to the thing God is most recently working out in me. And since God is a God of relationship, it seems He is working it out in those closest to me at the very same time. If you haven’t read her blog, read it HERE first and then come on back to me.
So I suppose I should start with a praise offering before I go into my pile of crap with you. That way the stench of what needs sacrificing doesn’t overwhelm the fact that my offering is ultimately a fragrance welcomed by God, no matter how old and infected it may be.
I praise God for relationship. I praise God for intimacy. I praise God for the full length mirrors He has given me as gifts and tools for lifelong self-reflection who bear the names Jarrett, Jory, Jace and Brynn. I praise God for best friends who not only bring to light things one on one, but broadcast it to the blogging world in order that hiding from accountability is not an option. I praise God for light. I praise God for freedom.
I am also on the verge of praising for the things that hold me back in certain places. I say on the verge, because embracing my deficiencies are never moments I charge excitedly. I mean I will do it, because God has made me obedient, but I don’t like it.
And so IT is (this week at least), comparison.
Comparison has been a companion of mine for my entire life. If we are honest, its in all of us. It bears names like education, money, intellect, beauty, weight, status, and success just to name a few. We are born into a society and bred by that society to compare. It’s so rooted in us that we don’t even know we are doing it. Not only are we being done (or undone) by it, we are perpetuating it.
Webster’s dictionary defines comparison as the act of comparing and also simultaneously the state of being compared. Do you get that? Comparison is the thing we do externally as a manifestation of what we are doing internally.
There is nothing like relationships that matter to us to draw out in us this deep seated root of comparison. We are drawn to those who reflect the truest nature of our inmost selves. For the most part we really appreciate them for who they are – until we realize that those people are a reflection of what we really like most about ourselves. Then we are faced with the question “is there enough of that to go around?”. Thats why marriage gets hard. Thats why friendships (real ones) get hard, because God uses them to wake us up to deeper places in us.
Annndddd so it is with Alisa. Alisa is a leader of the finest degree. She is fearless and brilliant. Articulate and generous. Stunning and strong. Everything I want to be when I grow up. Alisa has all the things I ask God to make me in ministry. What a perfect place for the creeper called comparison to take root.
God says in Galatians 6:4-5 in the Message “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” It sounds easy. It’s not. I am not allowed to add to the Bible, but if I was, I would add “God helping you” to Galatians 6:4-5, because Lord knows He needs to.
It first began when I started to see Alisa step into the fullness of who God has created her to be, specifically in her teaching of the Word and her leadership in ministry. I say it began there because it was a quick landslide. I found myself jealous of the restoration work God was doing in her marriage. The very marriage I had been petitioning for in prayer (without ceasing) for the last four years. Gross. What the hell? What is that? I clearly see my crazy but why do I know better yet can’t do better? I need a Savior, stat.
See, I need people to like me. I need people to want me to be around and I need people to think I am great in order to feel worth. Ok, that’s not pretty to write. It’s not pretty to admit (to myself, let alone all of you) and it’s not pretty that it’s true.
My comparison trap is I want to be the best at whatever I do and if I perceive anyone else as better, I have a problem. My problem is not against flesh and blood, but is one of spirit. I am not assaulted by Alisa and her beautiful being, I am assaulted by a lie of the enemy that says “if Alisa is good at this, there is no room for you to be good at it too.” It’s a scarcity mentality. It’s a lie that says there is not enough to go around. Without the Spirit of the Lord plumbing the depth of my being, I would assume Alisa is the problem. I would make Alisa, what my sister Stephanie calls, a “we” problem. My issue of comparison who happens to be wearing the name “Alisa” is not a “we” problem, its a “me” problem. Its a spiritual problem that the Lord is wanting to heal in me.
And here is the truth. For a while Alisa and I kept it at bay. We would confess to each other right away when our feelings of jealousy would pop up in order that we have fellowship with one another in the light. We know what the Word says and we were doing it…but God often has something more. God had for each of us something more than the “we”. “We” were good. “We” were honest and still the “we” felt unsettled. We know now that God was interested in the “me” in both of us. We needed individual explorations of the heart. I went on my “me” journey and realized that our “we” lacking was a reflection of my “me” needs.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of Joy.” As a lover of the great Lover, my joy is found in the person and anchor of Jesus Christ. To compare myself with others is to intentionally look Christ in the face and say “you are not enough”. What you have for me and all that your Word promises, is not enough. It’s to say that the temporal fix from believing that I am “better than her” or “it’s all her fault” is more secure than the act of Christ on the cross.
In closing, can I ask you an honest question? Do you have a “we” situation that is troubling you today? Could your “we” problem simply be the lowest hanging fruit, per se? The fruit most easily picked on. Or off. The ones that could easily be discarded as hopeless and in need of disposal? Or could there be something more than the “we” ? Could the Lord be calling you to the “me”?
The remedy of “we” is found in the remedy of “me”. By definition, comparison is the act of comparing and also simultaneously the state of being compared. In Christ we are anchored to Him. He defines us and in Him there is no room for lack, scarcity, or comparison.
And there it is, friends. In the words of my sister and bestie por vida…
“Young women will dance and be happy…I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.” Jeremiah 31:4 Msg
I was witness to something beautiful The kind of beautiful that literally stops you dead in your tracks. The kind of beautiful that draws you towards it, as though it were meant just for you.
I wasn’t looking for it. In fact, I really had no time for it. I was very busy playing host to 200 people in the room right next door (ugh, self importance is a bit nauseating). But beauty pauses for none as it beckons for all.
At first sight I knew the two lovely girls walking in to the lobby were in need of a very special earthly angel for their care. Clearly twins, they donned matching leotards with pink ballet tights under a set of wispy wrap skirts. They each carried with them a pair of seemingly new ballet shoes. Behind them was their mother, a woman who’s name I do not know, but whom I have given the title Saint. Draped in her arms she carried an armful of multi-colored tulle covered in a white plastic trash bag. The attention she gave to oodles of tulle made it known that what she carried was worth the struggle.
A number of others trickled in. Some with walkers, some in wheelchairs, most with leg braces. All with young bodies, big smiles, and a Saint of their very own in tow. It wasn’t until i heard the music that I actually understood. They were there for a weekly ballet class.
A ballet class.
When I saw these angels move, with the help of their Saints, to the sound of all kinds of instruments, I knew I was bearing witness to one of the most profound things I had ever seen. A glimpse from heaven. This must be what God sees when He looks at us. This is worship.
Children of the King, completely dependent, yet joyful. In need of care for everything, yet sustained. Broken in body, but not in spirit. All dressed up, ready to play before their King in order to bring Him glory. Not perfectly or independently, but desperately. JOYFULLY.
I began to cry. At first I thought it was because I felt sorry for their seemingly limited experience of life. Thats just honest. Sorry if I offended anyone with that, but it’s true, and I am human. Flawed and learning. But then I realized I was crying because I saw myself in those children. I realized how hard I make joy. How complicated I make need. How resistant I am to help and just how much I was really missing out by not embracing my deficiencies. I realized in that moment that I am that child with the leotard and wispy skirt, often unable to keep upright without the help of the Saints around me.
What I saw next took my breath away and gave me perspective I’ve been missing. The Saint with the armful of tulle had turned into a ballerina of the finest degree. The white plastic bag had disappeared, and so had the hurried mom of two. The rainbow tulle covered her from waist to heels as she glided across the wooden floor, leading her daughters with a smile than spanned her entire face.
This ballet class was for her. As much as it was for her daughters, the Lord had given it to her. She was whimsical and free. Her burden had been lifted, even if for a moment. In joy, she laughed. In joy, she sang. A glimpse of heaven.
The whole scene is sealed into my heart by the words I heard in those few witnessing moments. He said to my heart “Your need is someone else’s joy. Your deficiencies allow for others to dance. I will teach you to lead only after I teach you to follow. Trust me, in joy.”
If you are leading or following today, do it in joy.
There is only one you and your Maker has His eye on you.
You are seen. Heard. Loved.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. He created you in His image, for His glory. He has made you with a heart that can recognize, respond and repent at the simple casting of His eye your way.
If you have ever thought, even for a moment, that you do not matter, you do. He knows your ending, your beginning and everything in between. You are not a mistake. He is in love with you.
He is in a good mood and thinks you are a really great idea. He only made one of you. In Him you find out who you are and what you are living for.
Seek. Knock. Ask.
When He answers and tells you who you are, go.
Go do you. Only you.