Friday, October 28, 2011
I know it's been a good chunk of time since I've written in this blog, and i've deeply missed it and you. If you've had a chance to read my update recently you may have seen a little bit about what God is doing in my life here in this country of New Zealand. With this blog I plan to go even deeper into what He's been doing in my heart. My prayer is that you continue to find it encouraging and challenging at the same time. I must warn you because it's not always a lovely journey (most of the time quite painful)... but what I'm finding is that it's always a beautiful outcome if I hand over control to Him and patiently wait for His purpose in it all while clinging to His cloak in complete and utter dependency.
It often seems that when I leave my comforts and securities of home is when my real desperate needs begin to arise. At home I tend to cling to those things I can rely on like trusty friends, family, and other things that will temporarily fulfill the need or disguise the discomfort. I suppose we all have needs at a deeper level that we are unaware of until certain circumstances expose them... and when it happens, it's not a pretty site. But now i'm discovering that it's a perfect opportunity to find an intimacy with the Father that might otherwise be missed. He loves us SO much and desires for us to go on that journey with Him; but very few will find the time, energy, courage, or strength to walk down that road. Why? Because it requires much and proves little to the world. The only reward (that is of any true eternal value) is the one that's found in that quiet place of intimacy with the source of all Life. Out of this place is where all good things will flow.
The reason this is such an important topic for me this week is because it's been something I'm seeking and honestly struggling with because of the daily sacrifice it requires of us. Another reason is probably because the speaker on the school this week was Dalton Lifsey from the Tauranga House of Prayer in the north island of New Zealand. Dalton carries the message and annointing of intimacy with the Father wherever He goes. Something they do in the prayer house, which we also practiced here, is sit in a time of "Adoration" every morning for 2 hours in silence and meditation before the Lord praising and adoring Him for who He is. They read, write and reflect over His goodness spending quality time in His presense. It is a beautiful time of quieting your earthly mind and directing all good things to Him... especially the ones we can't fathom or understand.
During this time Dalton started singing a song that gripped my heart, and i want to share the chorus with you:
For my shame you give me romance,
and for my dirt you give me a wedding dance.
For my rags you give me riches,
and for my scars you give me kisses.
For my filth you give me treasure,
and for my pain you give me pleasure....
for me you give me YOU, for me you give me YOU.
This song reminds me that even when we give the Father our crap... He gives us something beautiful to replace it. What if then we turn back to Him and lift up the beautiful things too? What if we also blessed Him with words of adoration and praise... in addition to the things we don't want in our life? Certain things should be easy to let go of and for some reason are still hard because it's all we know. What if those things that hurt us and stand in the way of that intimacy became easy to release... and we moved on to letting go of things we truly adored? Including His promises. We need to trust that He is who He says He is ALL of the time. He is good ALL of the time... whatever the circumstances we have the choice to push through to see His goodness. That is our earthly disposition. Jesus was a perfect example of this. So why do we settle for anything less?
Something a friend of mine said a few weeks ago at the YWAM family gathering has really stuck with me. He said, "Jesus didn't die so we could have a relationship with the Father, he died so we could have HIS relationship with the Father." No matter how deep my lonliness and insecurities seem at times, His design is to take us deeper and deeper into His heart for us. And when we allow Him to do that we find something so extremely valuable that causes us to cling onto Him even more. Jesus represented this so well. He never needed recognition for himself, only pointed to the Father. He also trusted Him when things got a little (or a lot) sticky. The closer in proximity I walk towards Him the more these deep needs are exposed so that He can fulfill them; because no one else on earth can possibly reach the core of our being other than the one who knows His way around in there. So many times i've settled for being an aquaintance of God (like a lot of our FB friends... ) rather than moving into this intimate relationship I know He desires and I know our soul deeply longs for (whether we are fully aware of it or not).
I'm painfully being shown through this process that, in the past, i've placed way too much value on the recognition of others in what I do rather than knowing God, being recognized by Him, and caring what He thinks about me. Earthly titles, roles, and positions are always overshadowed by the heavenly purpose we find in Him as we discover our role as a son/daughter who is loved to the nth degree. Nothing, nothing, NOT A SINGLE THING on earth can possibly even come close to replacing this.
Today, I sit here alone in the back yard (in a completely different hemisphere) writing to you. Everyone else on our base is off celebrating a wedding, spending time at a conference, or visiting a beautiful south island town. My options are: I could sit in misery reflecting on the fact that i'm alone, possibly forgotten by human friends, and quite possibly being thought of by no one else on earth at this moment. But all of this would only lead me to the place of apathy which will impair the way I see and treat the world. On the other hand... I could sit alone... KNOWING that God has not forgotten me, rejected me, or abandoned me. HE KNOWS MY NAME. He knows YOUR name. He cares about every single little thought that's going on in your head and every broken place in your heart. Most of the time the others have not forgotten you either... we are just believing lies... but more importantly He wants to take us to that place of complete dependency on Him. When He does, no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in on earth, we will be able to stand confident in our identity as His child and be able to minister and love on others from this place of freedom so they too might know Him.
B90: (John 16:5- Acts 6:15) I was just re-reading Chapter 17 of John titled "the high priestly prayer" in my bible. This is a chapter I think that I could read over and over and only truly comprehend a very small percentage of it's worth. Take some time if your'e able to sit and meditate on these words of Jesus to the Father reflecting the deepest parts of God's heart for the world.
Jesus speaking to Father, "But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sandtified in truth." Ch.17: 13-19 "I made known your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." vs 26.
Wow... even if you just read this part I realize just how much other meaningless stuff in this world can consume my time compared to the rich heritage we have in the Father through the Son and our continued purpose in this world to know Him and make Him known. More than anyone else on this earth Jesus had "rights of recognition" and didn't even use them. Why? Because He was not called to make himself known... but he was born, lived, died and rose again to make God known. And again, he would not die just so we could have a pretty good relationship with God... but so we could have HIS relationship with Him... "the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." How amazing is that? Are you guys getting what I'm getting here? Sometimes I still can't believe that the divine, holy, righteous, and ever-lasting God of the universe and beyond actually wants to connect with us on a relational level (and while we are fallen humans!!!) I guess God could've told us to believe in Him, follow all the rules and He'll have a relationship with us when we get to heaven..... but he didn't! He sent His son to not only show us how but to make a way for it. He desires it now and forever more. Woweeee that's cool.
And I'll never stop loving this passage, just can't read it enough. What would happen if we really really really did live like this? This would be something great to really meditate on this week :)
The fellowship of the believers: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles; teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And AWE came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. and all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and disributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. and day by day, attending the temmple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2: 42-47
Health and Wellness: I know I haven't talked about this a lot lately but it's still very much a part of the "wholeness" mindset that I think is foundational in our walk. If we want to truly experience the fullness of God in us...then it's simple, the less of us = more of Him. The more we allow Him to "detox" us mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally... the more room their is for Him to nourish every area. We've been looking more into that while i've been here on this YWAM base in New Zealand. What does this look like for people across the globe in the poorest of situations to the first world. And the more I search the word, my own heart and ask others for wisdom... i find that He wants freedom and healing for every part of everyone. This happens when the Holy Spirit comes in and sets us free by the power of God. We also need to be realize that the enemy will try and cheat His way into you whether it's through negative messages in the media, dark movies, bad music, toxic food, supressed emotions, mental blocks, lies we've believed... etc etc etc. Being aware of this (but not obsessing over them) and letting God do His work to purify and wash over us so He can consume!!! I'm always learning so if you have any insight, wisdom, encouragment, or schooling in these areas PLEASE pass it on. God is for us!!! Love you all :)
Friday, October 7, 2011
The reason why I'm going back to New Zealand? Well... I've been serving with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) on and off since 2007. For the past couple of years God has given me even more vision, passion and excitement for the lost and broken world. Some of the areas I believe He's desiring me to focus on are: health and wellness, wholeness, self-sustainability, natural medicine, gardening, stewardship, etc. All of these things, I believe, are important for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual strength and health. I also see how all of these support each other and how God does desires freedom and healing in all areas of our life.
I'm excited to return to New Zealand for several months to A)foster the vision for possibly starting a new discipleship training school with some of this focus B)learn more about each of these things as i walk alongside wise folks who are willing to teach me C)implement some things I've been learning here D)continue to serve the base and local community in any way (lots of earthquake relief in Christchurch still do be done as well) E) do some evangelism throughout the south island F) and I'm goin cuz God called me!!! haha.
I feel as though God has revealed to me many cool things this year while I've been at home in the U.S. A lot of times in missions we are called to 'give fish away', asking or looking for nothing in return... but simply because He called us to. Then other times we are called to 'teach a man to fish'. But recently God has been showing me how we can not only 'teach a man to fish' but also 'teach that man how to give his fish away'. This has really got me thinking a lot about the way we view mission work.
Most of us who live the gospel understand and see how God blesses the heart of generosity. I mean, it's cool if we give out of obedience... but even cooler and more trusting if we go above and beyond what we believe we are "supposed" to give. Or if we step out on faith to give... knowing that He will provide for our own needs. Something happens when we begin to have an open handed policy with everything we've been given; the more we give, the more we really do receive... and it's not always money. But if our hands are tightly closed we miss out on the special love exchange that happens by being apart of that giving/receiving process.
This got me thinking about the ones in the world we would consider poor and needy. Sometimes we are called to feed them and/or teach them how to grow their own food. But what if we show them that they too can be generous and giving with what they have. A friend of mine in Nashville runs a homeless ministry downtown. The whole group that goes with him serve once a week down there by making many meals and feeding their bellies. One of the greatest things that has come out of this (other then their need to eat) is the community that has been formed. Through this the group has been able to step into each of their lives and climb into their story. Now, these people who may not have a home DO have a family who believes in them. Recently we've been brainstorming about a way in which they can get the homeless to help them raise money for Africa. We are both feeling like this could be the next step in homeless ministry. Perhaps, they will begin to catch the blessing of being able to give to others even in their desperate need and watch as God continues to provide. What a testimony that would be to people who (compared to them) seem to have everything.
If you could please be praying for me over the next few months, especially the next few days. There's always attack that comes right before I leave for missions... and yesterday wouldn't you know after over a whole year of being healthy, I got sick :( It was such a weird thing that came over me very quickly. I slept all day yesterday and think I fought off most of it! Praise God!!! Unfortunately, I'm a little behind on everything. Shooting a wedding all day tomorrow, still need to clean, pack, and work out some details. Then I leave bright and early Sunday morning! I know God's in complete control... just pray for rest and peace in Him. Because of all this and the traveling I probably won't pick up the blog again until next week sometime. I appreciate your prayers, encouragement and LOVE! I pray that God continues to speak to your heart about how much He absolutely loves you as His child! ~lins
P.s. If you'd like to be on my email update list please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
One man in particular I met today has been walking/ hitch hiking for 3 months making his way from California to the east coast. This man... William... has now been in Jonesboro, Ar. for 3 days. Immediately when He sat down my friend and I simultaneously noticed the spiritual baggage he was carrying almost before we noticed his physical baggage. This man was weary, tired, beat up, and lonely. He'd been rejected, mocked, and taken advantage of. He sure did talk about his problems a lot... but He also talked about His LOVE and hunger for the word of God. He seemed as though His bitterness was just about to get the best of him and he was about to give up on the human race. God's grace had been sustaining Him thus far and He knew it... but my friend and I both new He had places in his heart that had been scarred on this bumpy road that needed to be healed. He knew the truth forwards and backwards, but He needed a divine intervention. I got a picture of Jesus in the wilderness being tempted and Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and then God sending angels to minister to His weary soul afterward. I felt as though that was what God was doing in that very moment. Not that we were his angels, but that He was allowing this man to rest in His presence and softening the rough edges right in front of our eyes! It was crazy to see the difference in Him when he got up to leave. I knew we had all 3 been in the presence of angels sent straight from God to love on us and fill us back up with Him.
One of the things the man carried around with Him was a sign that simply said : THANKS. At first I thought it was so cars would pick him up or something but then I realized it was for God. He said that He holds it up to heaven every single day in adoration and praise for a God who provides for all His needs moment to moment. This man truly knows what it's like to live on faith alone. So although He may have walked away refreshed... I walked away with an extra measure of faith and encouragement to let more of my "stuff" go.
One of the most profound things I think I heard Willy say was: "When you attack someone that satan has crippled then he gets double the victory". This got us talking about how we interact with broken people all day long... in some areas of our lives we are too. What i mean is that we are not and will not be made perfect until that glorious day... but we DO have the opportunity for more freedom and healing in our lives until then. If the enemy is the father of all lies, and he seeks to kill, steal and destroy... then everyone we encounter that has broken places has probably believed a few of those lies. In some ways they are crippled by the enemy if they sit and act out of a victim mentality.
The lies are toxic and will make our spirits sick, weak and susceptible to more lies. Sometimes we take it upon ourselves to gossip, say or think mean things, or even shut a person completely out because of whatever reason we deem worthy through earthly measures. Most of the time we did not agree with what they did or how they acted. But does that act deserve the same in return? We have no more rights because their disappointing act came first... and we are responsible for our own action or response no matter what they've said or done. This is very CLEAR in the word and revealed in the heart of God. He is the judge, not us. Most or all victimizers are victims themselves.... but it's more or less a series of lies they've believed that have enslaved them allowing outside circumstances to control their internal feelings which control their response to life.
Have you ever thought or said these things? "Well they're an adult.. they should know better" , or "i can't believe a christian would act like that", or "i really thought they were raised right", or "that poor girl, she never had a chance", or "how dare they treat me like that, i'm...." the list goes on and on and on. I know at least I have shamefully thought some of these at some point in my life. This could be a clear indication that a) we feel as thought they've made their bed and deserve to lie in it (no grace or humility) b) we think we have certain "rights" because of certain earthly positions c) we don't see their need for freedom and healing rather see them as just evil people d) or perhaps we don't even desire for them to have more freedom and healing in their lives... or desire to see them stand in a place of victory rather than a victim.
I'm sure I'm leaving some stuff out here, but all I'm asking is that we walk into the light ourselves and choose to see with His perspective rather than our own. You see... as followers of Christ it IS very possible to be unoffendable. In fact, we need more believers who KNOW their Dad so well and have so much confidence in their position as His kids that they are saddened by these things rather than effected by them. We REALLY don't have to take things personal. I know it sounds crazy... but it's true!!! I used to be so insecure in who I was trying to be instead of claiming who God created me to be... and said I believed and loved and followed Him... but never really walked it out in obedience and truth. During this time I was so controlled by my emotions and feelings that just about everything hurt me. I was always a victim. Sometimes I even feel those lies creeping back in... but that's when we have to take control of those thoughts, throw them out with the trash, walk in the opposite spirit and get filled back up with the truth!
Walking in the opposite spirit: what does this mean exactly? I know I talk about it often. Basically when we are feeling, thinking, or saying crap things... we are INSTEAD to choose to believe the truth of what God says and speak that into fruition! The truth is what He desires for us and THAT is what will set us free! Right? So we must walk in that truth! It's ok to not FEEL great or to be honest with where you are at :) In fact that is healthy!!! Suppressing those things can actually be harmful. We just need to sift it through the perspective he gives us in the word, take it all to Him, hold it up to the truth and if it doesn't align we take it captive before it takes us captive!!!
And then all of this talk got me and my friend talking more about what God reveals in His word. Sometimes I hear people say..."I will do this, or that, when God reveals it to me". Or they might say, "That's good for you... but He hasn't revealed that to me yet." I understand there is a certain truth to that statement and it fully depends on what the other person is saying in that particular conversation. But the point I'm trying to get across... is sometimes we are waiting for God to come inside our house, sit down on the couch, and personally reveal how He wants you to live. Again, I understand there are specifics that sometimes we DO wait on the Lord for certain things. But what He's been showing me is that He's revealed it ALL of what we need to know and how to live in and through His word already. And what He's revealed in the word (whether we've read it or not) WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE for.
I've always heard that with my ears, but never quite understood it with my heart until I began this 90 day journey thing. All I know is that before I really dug in, I spent a heck of a lot of time comparing my life to others lives instead of to the word of God. I figured I was pretty "safe" if I lived a life marginally better than someone else. But I'm telling you... we are in serious trouble if we are not meditating on the truth and are measuring our walk according to the performance or velocity of others. How then will we really know the sneaky lies when they are approaching or if we truly are out of line? Reading the word more does not make you a "better christian" or more loved by God... because He already loves you at heavenly max. But He does command us to and obedience is His love language, so..... I dunno. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. It's simple: we obey Him because we love Him... and we love Him because He FIRST loved us EXTRAVAGANTLY.
This afternoon I got to go see "Courageous" with my good friend. I always tend to think those movies are going to be a little hokey, but it was really good actually. One of my favorite scenes was when the family was sitting around the table saddened by a terribly tragedy. The son says something revealing His guilty conscious and deep sorrow for his actions. The dad immediately gets up from the table, runs over to his son and wraps his arms around him and says, "I love you son... no matter what you've done, I love you." It was something along those lines... but they all just sat there hugging and sobbing. The dad's tears for his son probably ran down to his son's face as they embraced. I suddenly got a picture of the God of the universe doing the same for us every time our heart is broken, or realize our own human shortcomings, confess and run to Him. Before we can even get up out of our chair I see Him running over to us, tears streaming as He confirms this love He's always had for us and always will.
B90: (John 6:16- 16:4) I found a few parts of this very interesting but what stuck out to me the most was the mystery of what Jesus wrote in the sand that day in John Ch.8 vs 6-8. I was looking around the internet to see what theories were out there and one in particular really caught my eye. I've never been to seminary so I'm not sure what they're teaching... but this little theory is intriguing to me. (Keep in mind, it is JUST a theory).
John 7:37-44 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
Jesus teaches on the living waters, He is rejected by some that wish to kill him for it. The next chapter (not sure if it’s the same day or weeks later, but I imagine the events are close together in time and chronological.
John 8:3-11 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
This is all great, but where’s the link?
Jeremiah 17:13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the Lord, The fountain of living waters.”
Is it possible that John 7-8 are a fulfillment of this prophesy and Jesus was writing their names in the sand? Hmmm, very interesting! Maybe you have seen this before, but it is new to me and I find it fascinating!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Over the years I've had a few friends who have told me about these "silent retreats" and the amazing benefits of going to one. I trusted what they had said... but hadn't felt the urgent need to attend. UNTIL right around last fall when I was completely desperate for some word from the heavenly realm! I had been home from my missional travels for several months now... was still not in the best physical shape, pretty bad emotional shape, and an ugly place mentally and spiritually. I didn't feel at all like myself, and I knew it... which was driving me mad! What was worse, was that I was doing everything I knew to do to try and get out of that darkness... all I could do was wait. Around winter I started researching this silent retreat thing and started talking with the woman in charge of it who graciously offered me a scholarship if I would come. As I drove up to the most enchanting place I'd ever seen tucked away in the hills of Tennessee I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace.
The last thing my mentor told me (on the phone) before I walked in the center was, "Lindsey, you're just gonna have to LIVE it before you can write about it." Just a few days before this... right in the middle of all of the darkness, God gave me the title to the book that I knew I was going to write since I was a young girl. I know I've shared some of the ideas in these blogs but the basic premise of it being God's desire to detox our whole selves- mind, body, soul, spirit. I truly do believe that the WHOLE picture matters because it is all so connected. And what exactly does He need to detox us from? Well... the sin or toxins we allow in, the toxic things that just happen to us (i.e. abandonment, rejection, etc) and we hold on to, the lies we've believed about Him, ourselves and others; basically the "hell" that we see, hear, suppress, believe and live.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what enslaves us. But when He comes in and breaks us free... we must FILL up with His love, grace, hope and truth or more "hell" will make it's way back into that place and fill up the space. This is how we truly live from a place of victory rather than with a victim mentality. To carry on the freedom He gives we are given choice... when we make healthy choices and become good stewards of ALL we are given... our bodies become strong, our minds, our spirits and souls. It's much much harder to put on the armor and defeat those lies when we are weak in a part of our whole. Thank God there IS so much grace given to us... but I also believe it is better that we hold fast to the truth and not play with this beautiful gift of grace that we are given.
So going back to what my mentor said, I had to live my own version of hell so He could show me how He desires to detox me from it... before I could write about it. Makes perfect sense now...in hindsight. Haha. Most of these retreats are about 2 or 3 days long. And once I got to my tranquil room I immediately wished I could stay in this place forever! As soon as I met the woman in charge and dropped my luggage I began babbling about all the darkness I was walking through at the time. I frantically asked her, "Am I crazy??? Has anyone else had these sort of questions and dilemma's as I am having?" She calmly responded in such a loving way..."This is the one thing you must remember during this time. It will be hard, but there is nothing that you will ever walk through on this earth that Jesus himself didn't walk through. So whenever you are having one of those freak out moments remember to invite Him in to that place. He's the only one in this world that has been there and the only one who can console you the way you need." I'd only spent a total of 15 minutes in this precious place and already I was blown away!!
Each day our counselor (mine was a cute little nun) would listen to us for about an hour or so and then give us some scripture to meditate on the rest of the day. This was the only hour during the whole 24 that we were permitted to speak. I LOVED that... I know, crazy right? Ha. There was so much charm in the silence. The first day my nun gave me Genesis Chapter 2 to read. She told me to spend my first day in Eden with God as Adam did. As I meditated on this scripture I pictured what it might have been like to walk around with the King of the Universe in the most spectacular place on earth. As I sat there reflecting I loved to listen to this song by Phil Wickham:
After this completely overwhelming day the nun sends me to Gethsemane to meditate and reflect on the day Jesus went to pray in the garden with a weary and sorrowful soul to His Father. In Luke's version it says, "an angel appeared from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (Ch. 22: 43 &44) What an image. During this time I felt as though I could almost feel a tiny tiny fraction of what He did. And then it hit me... I had always assumed He just didn't want to go through all the pain of the cross. And perhaps that was part of his agony. But at this moment I started to wonder if He knew that what was going to be the most painful was the moment He was going to think that the Lord had deserted Him. God says He never will leave us or forsake us... but maybe while Jesus was dead (and in some sort of "hell" some say) perhaps it was so dark in that place He did not know in that moment God was still in control and was bringing Him back. I don't know... the bible is not clear on this... but this is the thought I had about it and the things that I learned from it: 1- He loved His Father so much that in the garden He couldn't bare the thought of being outside of His presence even for a moment, 2- He was willing to go through ANYTHING to carry out God's plan for His children because of His love and 3- Most humans experience some sort of "hell" on earth at some point and it may be so dark we do not possibly see where God could be in all of it. This is why we must know the truth and hide it in our hearts. So even in those times... we know that He is there and is in control... even when we don't feel it at all. We've got to trust Him, obey and praise Him especially through the crap simply because HE IS WORTHY.
On the third day my cute little nun counselor gave me Luke Chapter 19: 11- 18 to read. This is when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. So picture this: Mary is standing there weeping over Jesus's body because it was gone. All the sudden Jesus comes up behind her and starts asking her what's wrong. Not until He says her name does she realize it's her savior! Then as she's freaking out He replies, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'". I had a few revelations during this meditation as I spent time at the tomb with Mary and Jesus. I imagined that I would've felt much like Mary did... wanting more than anything to hug and kiss him!!! And what seems like a cold response from Jesus was an act of AGAIN pointing to God the Father, positioning Himself as the Son and servant of the Lord. He knew He was not going to be on earth any longer so in this moment they HAD to begin to trust in Him they were not going to see anymore. I used to think it would've been easier to believe if I would have known Jesus in person first. But now I'm not so sure.
At one point last year when I was in that dark place I asked the Lord if He would just show Himself to me. All I wanted was a real vision of Jesus or an angel in my room or something! Then I felt as though God said..."If I gave you this that you want, then why would you need faith"? Then I realized if that ever did happen to me I would probably not spend as much time seeking Him as I do... digging deeper into the great mysteries of God, searching for His hand in the darkness... discovering His heartbeat for me and the world. FAITH is essential to our walk with Him. And He does not just strengthen our faith, but allows us to be in circumstances where our faith can be tested. When it's tested it has the opportunity to become stronger when we choose to put our trust and adoration in Him.
At the end of my silent retreat I recognized something about all of the scriptures my nun had sent me to. Each one of those places was found in a garden. When I visit Israel two of my favorite places to pray and worship are the Garden of Gethsemane and the Garden tomb (where Jesus was buried). And another place I love to imagine I'm in now is the Garden of Eden. There is something special about the Gardens I believe. It looks like God is a pretty big fan of nature if you ask me! As I walk through lush gardens I see how alive and beautiful they are. In a garden all of my senses are heightened to where I can see so clearly, smell so perfectly, and almost hear the voice of God so audibly. I wonder if this is because there are no other distractions in the garden to keep us from its delicacy and elegance. I feel God so powerfully in nature, and I wonder if Jesus felt this too.
He walked, prayed, loved, bled, was buried and rose again in a garden.
He is in the garden waiting for you.
He is at the garden praying for you.
He is at the garden calling your name.
Whether you already know Jesus or not He is beckoning you to the Father, wooing you with His undeniable love. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done... God wants all of you. And when we begin to know even a little bit of His character we are overcome with praise and adoration for the one who humbled himself... bled, died and came back to life again.... for each one of us. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, I can't get enough!! I want more and more and more of Him!!!!
B90: (Luke 21- John 6:15) Find the gardens today and spend time in them with Jesus. Meditate on Him and He will meet you there.
P.s. If you would like more information on the "silent retreats" let me know: email@example.com or check out: http://www.dovehouseministries.com
Monday, October 3, 2011
This afternoon I spent some time at the local homeless shelter listening to stories and serving Chinese food. It was great. Every person there has a different story. There is so much humility in that place, so much gratitude, and an insurmountable amount of hurt and pain. One of the men I spoke with began to tell me how he ended up there. I asked if he had any family... and He has absolutely NO ONE. Not one single person on this earth alive that he can count on.. be it love, shelter, hope, food, etc. I don't hardly understand how this happens, but it does... all the time. It's a completely different world that most of us can not comprehend (nor do we want to). The crazy part is: it would probably only take one person who believed in this man for him to get on his feet again.
There were several men there I've seen before with physical deformities. One shares his van with another man and they switch back and forth every night between the bed and the seat. That meal was the only one he had all day. There were several other families with babies seemingly hopeless. All we could do is feed them, climb into their stories, offer hope in Jesus... and maybe help with some other needs. Each person there was so beautiful... even in their pain, sorrow, or tragic situation... they are survivors and they are God's children (possibly angels). My how His heart must ache for them. We know that no matter what we've done He still loves us. I can't imagine being in their shoes... and sometimes that's just the shoes they were born with. And man, do they have a lot of miles on them.
After I got home I sat at the kitchen table discussing with my parents what I can possibly do more. The more I read the gospels the more I see Jesus gave, fed and healed even when He was exhausted or empty. Sometimes He stayed somewhere for days so that He had time to heal everyone. Even when Him and the disciples lacked resources they asked for more and the Lord provided. Jesus didn't ask always ask for salvation in return of a healing (like a trade)... He just healed, spoke freedom and truth... and let God save. He also didn't make sure everyone deserved the loaves and fish that day... He just fed.
One of the only complaints the homeless had about the place was that the management had lost compassion. They feel like a number instead of a person because of the many rules that have been made. I can understand why people would want to build up many rules for protection... but now most who enter still feel like outcasts and a poor excuse for a human. It's so terribly sad to me that any human would be treated this way. As we walked out tonight all of them thanked us and said they really enjoyed it (as they got about their chores). We didn't give out fortune cookies with their meal, but I do feel like we were able to restore a little bit of their hope for their own future as we hugged them and walked away.
So... as soon as I get back in December I'd like to get a few local churches together and maybe open up a hostel or something. It's worth a shot and these people deserve it... simply because they are people (plus i LOVE hanging out with them!). If anyone is interested let me know and we'll start discussing the vision!
This has all got me thinking about treasure. No, not the pirate kind (although some kid was having a pretty fantastic pirate party at the park the other day... man, that's a lot of p's). I started thinking about control. How the poor can be controlled by money just as much as the rich or middle class. (Just so you know our "middle class" is considered rich to the world, so I wish America would start comparing it to the rest of the globe to give us some perspective). If you are one of those people who wishes one day to win the lottery and thinks all your problems will be solved... well then, I'd say money holds a great importance in your life whether you have it or not. And if we take a job we don't believe in for the money... or talk about money all the time and how much we don't have it, or need it... or worry about it... then, guess what? It controls us.
I have a strong feeling God wants us to get to the place where we can use it, give it sacrificially, save it, invest it... but not worry about it, hold on to it, control our giving and what they do with it, talk about it, or even desperately need it. Instead we can praise Him for what He IS going to provide!!! And that doesn't mean a bigger house, better car, more clothes... etc. He provides us with what we need and every bit is such a blessing! We are to be a blessing to others and not worry that our supplies will run dry.
Yes, there are many needs around the world and even in our country. We've got many many needs right here in Jonesboro. We have people who are literally living in their cars and on the streets. You don't see it most of the time because of where they go... but it's happening. But what a blessing it surely is to be a part of their lives... even if it's a little uncomfortable at first. Most of them just need someone who believes in them. I understand people have been cheated, taken advantage of, etc etc.... but not one story is the same. Even so... we are called to serve, love and give to the "least of these". So let's start here then.
Most of the time it takes a little more than just an inspirational message or motivating speech to get us going. My intentions are never to make someone feel guilty. The real reason we are able to move forward and keep on is because of God's ability to equip us for the journey. Sure, someone can light a fire of passion under you... but we can only go so far on that until we run empty, get discouraged, get hurt, or give up. This is why it is necessary we lean on the Father, rely on the Holy Spirit, read the living word of God, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
A few years ago had a very vivid dream that I was pregnant with Jesus and it was the second coming. Pretty crazy I know! When i realized who i was pregnant with in the dream I was overwhelmed and humbled because God was using me as such an important vessel of life. When I woke up I started listening to an old sermon of my pastor from nashville and was a little startled when he started talking about Mary and her humble realization of God using a simple servant like her to bring the King into the world. Please read her poetic response to God in Luke 1: 46-55.
It was pretty evident even then that the Lord was wanting me to go deeper and identify with Mary some how. Many more things came up the next few days about the subject of Mary... whether it was a song, verse or vision. As I was speaking with the base leader, He felt that perhaps I was supposed to identify with Mary's availability... and that God had unbelievable plans for me if I stayed willing and available to his calling. This will involve much sacrifice, but when we identify with His sacrifice... ours doesn't quite compare does it? Here we go....
B90: (Luke 11:14- 20:47) All of Luke is great but it seemed like Chapter 12 was specifically reaching out and gripping my soul today. Even before all this other stuff happened tonight! Wow, God is so awesome.
Jesus gets right down to business in Chapter 12 when He basically says commands us not to fear anything but Him who has the authority to "cast into hell". This seems a little abrasive and quite scary, but in the same breath says... "Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows." I think it's super crucial here for us not to discount or diminish the authority of God here. We must realize the power He holds. We tend to automatically think, "well, we are safe... it's the others that need to worry." When rather we should look at that statement in complete humility and gratefulness which will help us view all humans with compassion desiring to share the value we know that He places in us and them.
Even with the story of the Rich fool Jesus makes it very clear how He feels about possessions. "For one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Even when manna was coming from heaven God told them to only take what they needed for the day. I think there's something to this you know? Maybe He's simply telling us to be open handed with everything we have, or maybe there's more. He'd rather us be rich toward Him than lay up treasures on earth for ourselves...
Then the next whole passage He's commanding us to not be anxious confirming how much we are valued to Him. "And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added." vs 29-31...
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.....for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Saturday, October 1, 2011
One of my favorite things in the world to do this time of year is take my blanket, bible, snack of some sort and head to the park! There's nothing I enjoy more than soaking up all that sunshine and gettin as much of God in nature that I can. At one point I got distracted by the ducks (not unusual for me) and noticed a little guy out there kind of away from the others. Wouldn't you know that's the one I immediately fell in love with? It seemed as though the other ducks were communicating to one another, quaking jokes (hahaha...oh man, that was cheesy). But my cute little ducky was left out. A few minutes later it steps out of the water and starts struggling up the bank. Then tragically I realized my pet had a gimp leg!!! Oh no... how terrible. It started hopping up the bank and more than anything I wanted to take it into my arms, love and care for it, and fix all of it's problems. But the duck just kept hopping away from me no matter how hard I tried to communicate, "I come in peace" in my best quaking voice. (I'm quite a sight to see sometimes.) It's almost as if it couldn't trust me because it had been rejected so many times before. All I wanted to do was to tell it that it was wanted and loved.
If you've read any of my recent blogs you'll quickly see how passionate I am about orphans. Even more so... the broken, lonely, poor, hurting, disabled, or dying ones. Seemingly, the worlds outcast. At first we say, "how can this be?"... but yet, the remain alone. When I saw this broken duck abandoned by it's bird community because of it's deformities, I knew what God had in store for me. I don't even know the details yet... but I know God is going to lead me to that place. My heart hurts for the ones the world rejects, and it aches in a big big way.
Going to new zealand next week for a few months is the first step in this process. While I'm there we'll be developing a new school for our base but also I'll be looking into more long-term outreach destinations to connect with. This past year as I've been recovering from my sickness, God has been stirring in my heart and transitioning me into a life long missionary mentality. It's always hard to leave the fam... but it's just as difficult for me to see a lonely child rejected by the world with no one.
But you know... even here there are lonely children who feel rejected by the world (and I'm not just talking about kids). You may even be one of them. And sometimes it doesn't even matter how many people are around us... often that even makes us think we don't deserve to be loved, wanted or valued. Welp, this is just not true. He loves you so freakin much! I also think that if you really need something, you should look for ways to give that away. If you are lonely... then find lonely people to love and serve. If you are having financial difficulties... then look for poorer people to feed or love on, or ways to give money away. If you are feeling trapped... then go spend some time loving on the local prisoners. I know it sounds crazy... but by walking in the opposite spirit you are making a huge statement of faith and trust. You are also showing that those things don't control you and you are relying and waiting on the heavenly Father to provide. The more we look upward and outward, the more God takes care of the inward. But the more inward we look... the more everything seems to fall apart :(
I have a great friend who shared a vision recently someone had for her. In the vision she was a horse who was running wild, obviously upset about something. The stable boy tried and tried to check it's foot to see what was bothering the horse, but she was not having it. One day the master came along and soothed the horse with words of authority and love. The master got the horse to lift up her foot and found a tiny thorn that had been the root cause of all of the pain. He pulled out the thorn and after the initial pain, the horse had a sigh of relief. My friend identified with this vision in such a way that it brought up painful things to which she realized were the source of so much sorrow and slavery. Instead of pushing that back down and trying continue to "do life" with those tiny thorns, she was allowing the master to take them out. Now he could begin to heal... now she could run with freedom and joy.
I've been there, and I'm almost certain most of you guys have to. Sometimes we've become used to the thorns that bring so much pain and sorrow... and often we don't even realize that freedom is possible. You may be the horse... or you may be the little duck with the gimp leg, but there IS a purpose and design for you. Sometimes we continue to live with physical ailments and sometimes we are completely healed... but the masters always brings freedom and healing for our hearts if we choose to let Him.
When His character is revealed to us in such a way and we see the precious life we are given... we can't help but praise Him. Let the words of this song penetrate your soul today and bring light and life to the dark places. He wants to take out your thorns... allow yourself to be still in His presence so He can do what His does best.
B90: (Luke 3:21- 11:13) I LOVE in Luke Ch.4 when Jesus takes the prophetic word Isiah had written and stands up in the synagogue and reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. he has send me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then He rolled it up, sat down... and it said all eyes fixed on Him. It was probably awkwardly silent too. Then He basically said... "what i just read to you guys, was just now fulfilled." Whoa!!!! Insane! Can you imagine? Then He said a few things that ruffled their feathers and they drove Him up to a place they were actually going to throw Him off of a cliff. He quickly became the outcast. But somehow, he disappeared....
Last year I was able to travel through this part of Israel and actually stand on this mountain top. It was crazy to think that it happened right in that very place. I can't help but think what we would do if Jesus came into our churches today and started proclaiming some of these things. Yet another reason why the word of God MUST be on our minds, hearts, and lips... so that we KNOW the truth of who God is! And when we see, hear, or are moved by God we recognize Him.
There were some beautiful truths mentioned in those verses above. 1- Proclaim good news to the poor. 2- Proclaim liberty (freedom) to the captives. 3- Recovering the sight of the blind (healing) 4- Set liberty (freedom) to the oppressed and 5- proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. I wanna break it down even further... 1- He's telling others (the poor in spirit or/and literal poor) the GOOD NEWS... He's not forcing anything or enticing. 2- He's speaking freedom to those enslaved (spiritually and quite possibly physically). 3- He's reclaiming the sight that was lost for the blind (spiritually and physically too) by healing. 4- To the oppressed (again possibly both) setting free and 5- declaring the favor of the Lord! Notice some themes here? Proclaiming truth... freedom... healing... And the thing is; Jesus knows exactly what it feels like to be rejected, unwanted, and unloved. No wonder He has such a heart for the ones cast out of society.
I also noticed something I hadn't before in the story of the good samaritan Ch. 10:25-37. Right before He tells that story someone had asked him the greatest commandment. First love God with everything, second love your neighbor as yourself. Whatever we think neighbor means... this brings a new spin to it! It was the man that bound up his wounds and went out of his way to take care of him that "proved to be a neighbor of the man". It was the "one who showed him mercy". Wow. Again... I used to think loving my neighbor was letting them have a cup of sugar or something. But this really does bring whole new meaning. Instead of waiting for a neighbor to ask us for help... what if we were constantly on the look out for needs of people (even strangers!!). And what if we were willing to go out of our way for them... knowing they could not repay us? How often have I overlooked someone's need because I thought maybe someone else would do it? I can't think of a better distraction from this "busy life" than entertaining angels :)