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When Jesus Leaves

im sorry im leavingRemember Mary? Not Jesus’ mother Mary, but Mary Magdalene, the one who pours all her expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and people get mad at her for “wasting” it. The reason Jesus wasn’t offended that she spent all her perfume on HIM (as opposed to selling it and giving the money to the poor) is because he knew this was an act of Love. Mary knew who Jesus was and she was cherishing her time with Him. I imagine she knew she was in the presence of the Messiah and this was the only thing she could think of to do that would honor Him in that moment. As usual, Jesus saw more than the act itself; He saw the intention (the heart) behind it.

You may also remember Jesus used this opportunity to remind people that He wasn’t going to be with them much longer, so it was good that Mary was savoring the moments they had together.

There are times even when Jesus walked the earth that he sent his disciples off by themselves to minister to people around them…without Him (he wasn’t with every disciple every moment). Jesus spent copious amounts of time with them, filling them with knowledge and wisdom, and giving them experiences that would verify who HE is. He encouraged them. He prepared them. And then he sent them out.

I’m beginning to think maybe there’s a pattern to how God works in our lives. Perhaps what we think is the Spirit abandoning us, neglecting us, or ignoring us, is really just Him sending us out. In those times of awesome spiritual highs, we need to take advantage of His undeniable presence, because that is when we are going to be filled, encouraged, and equipped. But we need to DO something with all of that encouragement and equipping. If we all just stayed on the mountaintop all the time, nothing would ever get done. No one new would come to Christ, no one new would have those mountaintop experiences because there would be no one to tell them about the One who brings us there.

God graciously pours out His spirit in varying measure, for our pleasure, but ultimately for His glory…for us to be able to do the work He’s called us to do.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Life of Worship

The thing is..I’m scared. I’m afraid I’ll lose part of myself and I’ll get sucked into a life of mediocrity.

A couple years ago one of my teams played at a Generation 4 Justice conference in the Seattle area. The main thrust of this conference was to raise awareness for human trafficking and slavery, but in the end, everything came down to living a life that is passionate. It was a challenge to rise up and to not let this life pass us by without making something of it. And by “making something of it” I do not mean, “living the American Dream”. God did not put breath in our lungs so that we could spend our days making  money, paying off debt for things we shouldn’t have purchased in the first place, blinded by our selfishness, and unaware of people around us.

This breath that is in our lungs (that He doesn’t HAVE to give us, by the way) is meant to enable a life of worship.

And so the challenge becomes, for all of us, to discern what that looks like for us, and what passions He’s placed within us to live that out. But don’t assume that the “easy” thing is the thing you’re called to. Perhaps you ARE called to stay in your city, work there with joy, raise your family to know the Lord, and be financially responsible. But maybe you’re ALSO called to use your riches to feed the hungry, tell your co-workers about the redemption found in Christ, or maybe something as bold as taking an orphan into your home. We could become a people who pour ourselves fully into serving Christ and his people… having jobs to simply facilitate that effort.

I want my life to be like this. No matter how long or short it may be.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

5 years ago

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I think the hundreds and hundreds of pages I’ve been journaling over the years have become my biggest asset. I can learn a lot about myself and about what the Lord is doing in my life (or has already done!) I’m glad I have a record of it all. Sometimes I will read something  I wrote a few years back and think to myself, wow, who the heck wrote that! She sounds really smart. Other times I think, wow, who the heck wrote that? She sounds like a total idiot.

Luckily today, when I read a journal entry from exactly five years ago, I was impressed and not mortified:

“Sometimes we act as though we’re going to earn God’s favor, or prove our faithfulness by depriving ourselves, or making bigger sacrifices, or praying, fasting, being healthier, giving more of my time, being more studious, etc. What I’ve come to realize though is that we can become a slave to those things, even though they are good on their own…and that’s a sin.

The Lord Loves us and has favor over us, and approves of us out of grace…because of Jesus, not because of anything we have done (or don’t do!)

Does that mean we should cease to seek wisdom and a contrite spirit, and right intention, and humility, and knowledge? Of course NOT! By doing these things we are living out our faith. But us becoming a slave to those things; us serving those things, is just as sinful as not doing them at all.

That’s why there needs to be a healthy balance between focusing so much on works that we push out grace, and becoming so comfortable with grace that no one can tell any difference between us and someone who has no concern for God at all.

And that is why  James reminds us that our faith without any works is dead, while Paul reminds us that we cannot be saved by our works but only through grace”.

*See James 2: 19-26 and Ephesians 2:8-10

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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In Sickness and in… More Sickness

Portrait Photographer MissoulaIf you’re married chances are your vows included something along these lines

“I ________ take you to be my __________ from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…”

I’m pretty sure our vows should have just said, “In sickness and in more sickness” because I don’t think my poor husband is ever going to see me in “health”.

But then, isn’t that true of all of us?

If we’re breathing, the sickness of original sin is inside us and will present itself in countless ways throughout our lifetime.

It bothers me when I hear someone say of their spouse, “He/she isn’t the person I married…I didn’t sign up for this!” So many DID sign up for this, though they may have failed to fully consider the words before they said them.

If our marriages are meant to be a model of Christ’s love for us, perhaps we should contemplate what His vows to us would be. I imagine they would be something like this:

I love you __________. And I will never stop! I will love you in your physical sickness; in your sickness of pride; in your anger; in your gluttony, laziness, addictions, and doubt. And I will rejoice with you as I help you overcome those things. I will never leave you.

The thing about Christ is that He is the only one who knows how to love this way. We are called to love this way because Christ does (see 1 John 3, 4:7) but we need Christ in order to make that happen. Only by His spirit in us will we be able to love in the way we should.

Let us ponder that today. Whether we are single, or parents, or spouses, or friends…are we allowing Christ to love through us?

This may sound silly, but I actually consider myself fortunate to have had all the health issues I did before Nolan and I even started dating. I love that Nolan knew exactly what he was getting into when he married me. He knew I may never be “well”; he knew I would suffer, and that my suffering would cause him to suffer; he knew loving me would take work; and he did it anyway…with JOY. That will forever be a stunning illustration in my life of God’s love for us.

He loves us anyway. Any way. Every way. Whichever way. No matter which way. All ways. Always.

Praise Him!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

No Trespassing

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A couple of years ago I was in West Virginia doing a concert at a homeless shelter, and there was a young guy there about 21 years old I think, we’ll call him Marshall. After the concert we were just hanging out, visiting with people, and Marshall starts telling us about a dream that he’s been having. He said he has had the same dream every night for the past few months and he doesn’t know why.

In the dream I’m always sitting in my living room, and I’m not doing anything, but this guy (I think it’s Jesus) is walking around the outside of the house. And he keeps looking into the windows but never coming inside. I keep waiting for him to come in but he just keeps looking in the windows.

Now, I’m no prophet or interpreter or anything, but the meaning of this particular dream seemed so clear to me, I had to say something.

Not that you asked for my opinion, but I think God is just waiting for you to invite Him in.

I think about Marshall and his dream from time to time because I think it has some great reminders in it. Here are just a few:

  1. God is a gentleman. He will not force His way into our lives. If He forced us to love Him it wouldn’t really be love, it would be coercion.

  2. God is not a watchdog. Sometimes we treat God as if He’s merely there for our protection. You stay outside and protect me from bad things, we say, but don’t come in here, I don’t want you messing up my house.

  3. The Safe Zone is not the Satisfying Zone. Sure it seems like the best of both worlds to have God on the parameter, in case we need Him, while we get to have our own personal space. But just like Marshall, if God is not on the inside, we aren’t really doing anything. Things might seem to be going really well and you might just be minding your own business, being a “good” person, but if God is not allowed into our lives…into every crevice of our being, nothing we do is going to fully satisfy, so we might as well be sitting doing nothing.

I could keep going, and talk about how God isn’t interested in a lukewarm relationship with us, or how we tend to think we should clean up our house before we invite Him in to stay, but I’ll save that for another post.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Oceans

ImageWe’ve been doing this song at church lately, from Hillsong, called Oceans. You have probably heard of it, because…well, because it’s Hillsong and everyone knows their stuff. Anyway, it’s a really fun song to sing and, like many others, the bridge is my favorite part.

 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders

Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

 

I love that 3rd line!

 

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

 

Perhaps this is reading too far into the lyrics but what I take away from them is this: we are never going to simply stumble into a deeper relationship with God, because His love is not accidental. His love and His mercy and His grace are completely intentional, and we need to at least turn ourselves toward Him so that He can lead us into the great unknown.

 

It’s silly for us to acknowledge that our earthly relationships take work, (they take time, energy, and dedication, in order to make them great) yet we fail to apply that same knowledge to our relationship with God. We think we can just call ourselves Christians, show up to church on Sunday morning, and flip through the Bible on the rare occasion we need a “pick me up,” and think that constitutes a relationship.

 

There has to be a giving up of ourselves. A moment when we say, Spirit, You know all things, your way is GOOD, please lead me in it. I’ll go wherever you want me to, even if I don’t understand it, or it’s uncomfortable, because I know it means more of you when I get there.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
Video

Your Hands: Cover by Maine Story

In honor of my Golden Birthday (that’s when you turn the age of the date of your birthday) I have decided to go out on a limb and share something even more personal than my thoughts. So here’s a video for ya. It is from about 2 years ago and we are super boring to watch (my apologies. We never thought we’d show anyone the video so we didn’t think about an audience at the time) but the song is wonderful (originally by JJ Heller) and it often helps me to refocus on the Lord’s faithfulness when I’m having trouble remembering. I hope it does the same for you.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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