Tag Archives: Bible
08. Mar, 2013

Facing Your Giants

Facing Your Giants

RocksAs I sit here with my second cup of coffee this morning (or is it my third??),  I am facing a new day. A new day that will be filled with joys, sorrows, ups, downs, and with giants that seem to be lurking around the corner.

Giants. They mock you, they taunt you, they scare you and make you run away. They parade up and down your school rooms, your youth group, your sport teams, your band, your bedroom and your heart. They tell you you’re not good enough, not talented enough and not brave enough, that you’re not smart enough, or loved enough. They tell you that you won’t make the team, or get the part or make the band or get the grade, that you won’t get “those” friends, (or really.. ANY friends for that matter). They tell you not to try, or entice you to give up or scream that you will fail. Your giants.

A lot of us face them in our lives, although they may not be ones that are standing physically before us, you need to know that they are still there. We face them in our lives. Yet they are not meant to make us run the other way or shrink back in fear. I want you to take a look at the life of David who went up against the biggest giant….that physically was standing in front of him. Talk about scary, knee-knocking scary. Yet David didn’t shrink back in fear, he didn’t run in the opposite direction, no David went head on. He ran at the giant with the strength of God. He faced the giant face to face, man to boy. Yet he knew he wasn’t standing alone.

“You come at me with swords and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”-1 Samuel 17:45

David knew he wasn’t facing his giant alone.  He knew that he was strong and mighty because of the God that he represented. He knew that he had all he needed, when he used the Name of Almighty God as his defense.  You and I need to know the same. We need to know that we don’t face our giants of loneliness, depression, fear, anxiety, unworthiness, or of guilt from your past, alone. We have the Lord of Angel Armies fighting with us; you and I have the Lord of hosts on OUR side!! That alone should make us want to rush at our giants head on with full force, with the purpose of taking them down.  David knew where his strength came from and he stepped into it. Not just “stepped” into it, in fact, ran at full force into it! You and I can do the same.

Your giant does not get to rule your life if you don’t let it. You know what your giant is.  You have felt your giant glaring down on you, but the question is, is that all you see? You know the voice of your giant as it mocks you, but do you hear the still small voice that whispers Truth to your heart? Do you hear God as He calls you to step out, do you hear Him as He says He is with you, that He loves you? David took on the giant with full force. He slung the rock and hit the giant and killed him. In a split second the giant went from taunting, scary and pacing, to dead on the ground in the blink of an eye. David had the courage to throw a stone.

And you do to. You have the same power that David has. You have the power to take on your giant, you get to say “Giant of depression it may take a while but you won’t conquer me!” “Giant of unworthiness, my God died for me, your voice will no longer rule me!.” “Giant of broken heartedness, you aren’t entering this house anymore!” “Giant of insecurity you no longer reign over me!” “Giant of loneliness you go away, for my God is ALWAYS with me!” You have the stones, God given Truths that you can sling at your giant. Sometimes it takes constant slinging of stones, constant truth being thrown at your giant, but sooner or later the giant will fall, the taunting voices will stop and the fear will no longer be present. But it takes you…to step out, to take on the giant. You know where your strength lies, you know where your victory comes from, but you need to claim it.

“Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.  He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. ‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!’ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’ As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.”  -1 Samuel 17:41-51

05. Sep, 2012

The Sand

The Sand

If you know me well, you would know that I don’t like the beach. So you would probably think this is me venting about how much I hate the beach. WRONG. For once, I am using the beach for good.

I had an encounter with my pride the other day. I realized that pride can get you in a LOT of trouble.

Recently I have been really trying to strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I would say that I have been doing pretty well!!! I would say I am pretty PROUD  of how far I’ve come in my walk with God. I’m starting to read my bible every day. All I ever really want to listen to is good Christian music. I have started trying to love people unconditionally. I have been trying to get the group I hang out with to start re-evaluating their lives and think about how they have been acting. I’ve done pretty good just striving to live a godly life.

But then enemy of my soul hit me. I was knocked down at the knees. I feel on my face. The darkness surrounded and I had NO idea what the heck was happening!!! It all happened so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to prepare. I kept thinking, “But I was doing so well! This can’t be happening! I’ve come so far! I’m doing pretty darn good. I want good things!” Do you see the problem??? It’s pretty clear afterwards. *I* am the problem. My pride over ruled me. Let me ask you this:

Can *I* have done all that “good” by myself???

HECK NO!!! There is no way on this  earth that I can come so far and have no help from anyone. I was carried through some bits. Maybe dragged here and there but I hardly used my own two feet at all. God. God carried me. Maybe dragged me, but He did it. Just because I was the one reading my bible, listening to encouraging music and proclaiming God’s love to everyone doesn’t mean I was alone.

Now don’t get me wrong. Doing all of these things are great! They are AMAZING! It’s so wonderful to dig deeper into God. But when you do it for yourself, not because you love God and just want to become more like Him, then you can end up in a bad place.

Here’s where the sand comes in. You were too busy looking at your footprints in the sand behind you that you didn’t see the storm that was beginning to build steam in front of you. You didn’t know to get your armor on for the storm. You weren’t paying attention to the battles in front of you because you were just looking behind you. Stop looking at your own footprints!!! Turn around get your feet back walking forward and put on the armor because your journey isn’t over yet.

That reminds me of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman call Long Way Home. The chorus goes like this:

“But I know we’re gonna make it
And I know we’re gonna get there soon
And I know sometimes it feels like we’re going the wrong way
But it’s just the long way home”

We are gonna make it. It may be a long hard journey to get there, but when you ask God to help us and be with us on this journey, NOTHING can cut us at our knees.

05. Sep, 2012

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

I sit down at my computer this morning, staring at the blank page seeing the blinking cursor.  It seems to be mocking me… challenging me, “do you REALLY wanna go there”??!!

But, as I smile, I know that I have never been one who is good at backing down at speaking Truth, even if it goes against the flow, or rubs people the wrong way.  Ultimately, I am not really here to please people, I am to be living my life as a pleasing aroma to my King, and willing to use whatever gifts He has given me, to help speak Truth in love, encouragement, challenges, and a loving desire for my brothers and sisters to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Being a bit of a “word-buff”, I decided to go to the dictionary and look up a few words that seem to be floating around me recently.  Words that said by themselves, seem to be words that we sorta slide over, rush past knowing their meaning isn’t really nice, but not really wanting to spend too much time looking deeper into them, and see the blackness behind their true definition. Now, being a tactile person, words are just words to me, unless I have a way to FEEL them, resonate with them somehow, or have personally seen them played out both positively OR negatively in the lives of my family and friends.  So, I want you to, if you will, stop with each word and think.  THINK how you maybe have been impacted by them, seen them used in your family or friend’s life, or… if you will be willing to be very honest, be willing to admit that you have been the one to speak them yourself.

Definition of SLANDER : to utter slander against : defame

Definition of DEFAME 1archaic : disgrace; 2: to harm the reputation of by libel or slander; 3archaic : accuse

Definition of DISGRACE 1archaic : to humiliate by a superior showing; 2: to be a source of shame to disgraced the family; 3: to cause to lose favor or standing disgraced by the hint of scandal

Definition of GOSSIP 1: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others; 2a : rumor or report of an intimate nature

21 years of ministry, and 42 years of living, and I have to tell you I have been on the receiving end of these words on more than one occasion.  I personally had great pain from the impact of these words.  We have seen loss of friendships, ministries, and family because them.  I have seen how turning a blind eye and allowing the cancer of these words to spread, can become so damaging all you long for is Heaven and the perfection of the Holy and Righteous God who Judges according to His goodness, Love and Truth.

And, to be brutally honest, I have been the one speaking these words from time to time.  I have done the unthinkable and opened my mouth to speak out against my brother or sister.  I don’t approach this subject with a blind eye, or a finger pointing at the splinter in someone else’s eye, when I KNOW that I have had not only logs, but full on forests growing in my eyes!

Our women’s group at Lifezone have been going through the Book of James and we have had 6 weeks so far, of hard hitting words from the half-brother of Christ.  He doesn’t seem to mince words, or beat around the bush.  He straight forwardly said:

 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” –James 4:11-12

In our study, this was said:

“Judgmental thoughts toward other believers put me at greater risk of trouble with God than those old sins I have committed”.  We then were encouraged to go read Luke 18:8-14. I spent time just reading and rereading this passage, particularly verse 14.

I see how these words of “slander, defame, disgrace, gossip” are really the negative outpouring of each of us standing in judgment over each other.  I can judge your actions based on my own personal information, and decide that I have the right to be judge and jury in your life. And you do the same in my life.  You stand in judgment over me.

I loved that we were hit full force with the clear understanding that God is the only One that is allowed to judge.  And what is the coolest thing is that God will judge based on Truth.  He sees the past, He sees the present, and MOST importantly He sees the future!  He knows what the real motivation of our hearts are, and He will judge accordingly. And when He Judges, there will never be slander or gossip from His Holy lips.  He will never disgrace or defame one of His Kids.  We are His Inheritance. We are part of His Royal Priesthood and are Princesses or Princes in His Kingdom.

But let me get back to James for a minute.  James seemed to be encountering a pretty yucky situation in his congregation, for him to feel the need to speak so strongly to his brothers and sisters.  It seems they too, were not acting like Princesses or Princes.  They might have let slide the understanding that they are part of the Royal Kingdom, and were allowing the “world’s” standards instead to begin to seep in. They might have been turning on one another, slandering, defaming, disgracing and gossiping, instead of seeking to reach a sick and dying world around them. Was he seeing what I have been seeing?  Did he feel the sting of gossip, slander, and defamation too?  Was he seeing his family and friends being affected by this cancer?

I wonder if it is that as believers of Jesus, we are seemingly not doing  a very good job of loving each other well.  Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love” talks about how if we are loving God with every fiber of our being, we will not have room in our lives to be sinning.  We will be so filled up with love for God, that it will pour out of our lives into others around us.  And as we are loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, we will naturally love our “neighbors” (both the non-Christians and Christians alike) as ourselves.  That in loving El Elyon with such devotion, that we become aware of how much grace we have been extended, and again, from that place of complete love for God, we naturally pour grace unto others around us.

Funny, as I was standing in the shower this morning, I was thinking about a conversation I had with my oldest on Monday.  She has been studying the Fruits of the Spirit, and she was on “Patience”.   Sis has also spent some time at the feet of a Bible Teacher learning the importance of having “porcupines” in our lives because by having the hard to love around us, we are being given real life examples of “practicing what we preach”.  If I say “I love you no matter what, because God has given me the greatest love of all”, then certainly we should expect He is going to allow us to have people to do that very thing with.  Or, if we say “I am SOSO overcome with God’s amazing Grace in my life, I just can’t imagine not showing it towards my brothers and sisters!”, then we should know that Adonai will place people in our lives that we need to give grace, grace and more grace to.

Peppa said her Bible Teacher encouraged us that we need these people to help us learn how to “die to self”.  The world says “if someone is making you miserable, get rid of them”, but God’s standards are different.  If someone is in your life that allows you “practice what you preach”, then maybe you and I need to spend more time thanking El Roi, who sees it all, and knows what the outcome of this situation will be. He is desiring to refine us, and that by turning up the fire in our lives, He wants to allow the imperfections to come to the surface so that He can scrape them off and we will become more and more in the image of His Son. Instead of fighting with His kids, and judging each other for this or for that, He wants to show the world that He is a God of love, and wants to use us to do that.

So how do we do that?  Because, let’s be honest, there are people and situations that in my 42 years of living, that even now, in my mind’s eye I want to line up in front of a nice good old fashioned firing squad and will happily jump up to be the commanding officer that gets to count down the rifle bearers to shoot.  Come on, as you read this, I hope some of you are smiling and murmuring an “amen!” under your breath.  I HOPE that I am not the only one….  I see them as my “porcupines” and I struggle to WANT to love them, to extend grace to, when it seems like I have some deep wounds from their involvement in my life.  So, I go back to the only source that I know will speak Truth and be reliable to show me how to live in a such a way that won’t grieve the Spirit that is in me.  Because the reality is, the Holy Spirit really isn’t One to encourage firing squads!  I know that…….

James 1:22-25

Obey the Word of God. If you hear only and do not act, you are only fooling yourself. 23 Anyone who hears the Word of God and does not obey is like a man looking at his face in a mirror. 24 After he sees himself and goes away, he forgets what he looks like. 25 But the one who keeps looking into God’s perfect Law and does not forget it will do what it says and be happy as he does it. God’s Word makes men free.

I have seen this pattern in my life, where I will emotionally connect with a passage of scripture, or a message being spoken and go “Wow!!  That was really good!  I should try and remember that.”, but walk away and never seek to put into practice what I have learned.  James speaks to this… Being a “hearer” or an actual “doer” of the Word.

So, why does it seem like I am walking around in circles and not really “getting to the point”??  Let me try now to tie this all up by offering a personal testimony.  17 years ago, I was really burned by those words that we started to look at in the beginning of this blog.  Being a “artistic” person, and ADD to boot, music has always had great impact on me.  Words sung from a heart with different instruments used to add emphasis resonate deeply to my core.  A song that I would listen to over and over again during that painful time, was from a band called White Heart, entitled “Seventy Times Seven.” I just would sob, sing, sob, sing and sob some more.  I was young and naïve.  I was completely bowled over by the knowledge that believers in Jesus could so deeply wound one another.  People that I had respected, considered friends and counted on, left me bleeding in the dust.  I don’t for a minute believe that it was a coincidence that White Heart’s song was the newest released song getting massive air time on the Christian radio stations.  And whilst that song helped me cry out my pain in the moment, I don’t believe I did what Scripture says.  I didn’t really forgive seventy times seven. I just simply moved on from that pain, allowing the “past to be the past” and not ever really wanting to open that door to my heart again.

I have come full circle.  This morning I created a new play list on my Praisepod.  It’s simple title is “Forgiveness”.  The first song to go into that play list was White Heart’s song from so long ago, with several other new ones that K-Love is playing right now.  “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North, and “Forgiveness” by Mathew West just to name a few.

The point I am trying so desperately to make as I seek to close this circle of thought is that choosing to forgive is at the heart of being on the receiving end of all those awful words.

Definition of FORGIVING 1: willing or able to forgive; 2: allowing room for error or weakness

Definition of FORGIVE 1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for forgive an insult; 2: to cease to feel resentment against

This time around, I want to do differently than I did 17 years ago.  I want to forgive.  I want to give up resentment, and I want to allow room for error or weakness in other people’s lives. I want to turn up my Praisepod, sing the songs as my hearts cry, and stand in front of my 1 Corinthians 13 passage taped to my bathroom wall and choose to pray love into my situation.  I want to love as God has loved me.  I want to offer grace, to the same measure that I have been given.  And I want to forgive to the same measure of which I have been forgiven. I think in doing that, I am doing what James has said. I am looking into that mirror, and NOT walking away this time as if nothing is different.  I want to wake up tomorrow different.  I want to be dead to myself, and have more of Christ shining out of me.  I want to be one that the sick and dying world can look to and see someone that has offered grace and forgiveness to, NOT in my own strength, but because I am represent a God that has done it for me.

And I never again want to allow slander, gossip, or defamation to come from my mouth.  Words hurt deeply.  Careless words spoken, divide.  And slander will destroy friendships and trust.  I don’t want that to be part of my list that God speaks to me about on my day of reckoning.  I have enough other issues we are still working on.

So, I will end this with a “Thank You”.  With not one little bit of sarcasm or bitterness in my voice (I pinky swear!) thank you to each one of you who have allowed me the opportunity to die to myself.  I have chosen to take Paul’s words one step farther, and say “I thank God for my remembrance of you”.  I can sit here this morning and think of each of your faces.  If I didn’t have you “porcupines” in my life, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be refined.  I wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow in Christ.  I really do need you.  Each of you have taught me more about myself, and shown me how much I long to be a girl that through thick and thin, good and bad, happy times and painful times, is growing to become more Christ like.

I will end with some of the lyrics from Mathew West’s song, “Forgiveness”

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
 
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness
 
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
 
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
31. May, 2012

I am not who I used to be….

I am not who I used to be….

“What this means is that those who become  Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”- 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But forget all of that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!”-Isaiah 43:18-19

The purpose of this blog is different then most that I have written. So bear with me as it might get a bit long (sorry to some of you who hate reading but stick with me!) I guess this blog has kind of formed out of a really interesting week for me. This week, I had the most amazing encounter with God that I would never have expected to have in a million years. Not only that but I preached my second sermon so far and had kind of an update meeting with my wonderful teacher Chris Opie from Pathways college. This blog is coming from a heart that can not stop from giving thanks to God and not stop falling on my face before Him.

I know some of you knew back in my darker days and saw that ugly side of me, and some of you have thankfully not had to witness that, but have only begun to see the transformed me that God is continually working. But I wanted to start by saying God has not done a tweak in my life, He has completely transformed my life. Some of you here in NZ who know me now might not have noticed me if you had passed me on the shops three years ago. And as I have been thinking about it the last couple of weeks, I am so continually blown away that I keep hitting my knees in awe and thankfulness as I look around me and see the amazing works that God has done in my life. What really hit it all home was when I sat down on Saturday morning with my Mug&Muffin girls and watched one of my favorite Bible teachers Beth Moore, share about a life transformed in David. And I seriously wanted to break down and cry right then (tears of joy). I sit here at the end of a very full week and I look back, I see the faithfulness and fingerprints of God all the way through it. For me, I know I am not the same girl I used to be and I can not take any credit for that. Because I know if I did that I would need to be struck down with lighting (hahaha Peyton) or something. For me tonight this has been my wake up moment and I have realized that I know I am not where I used to be, not by a long shot. I am very thankful and humbled and happy to say that as much as the enemy tried, he did not get all that he wanted from me.

I want to share with some of you who haven’t seen me in a year or two (or who have facebook stalked me via photos and what not) what has been going down on my side of the world. At the beginning of this year, I have had the amazing privilege to be accepted into Pathways Bible College, and am working part time on a certificate in Worship Leading. Never in a million years would I have ever believed that God would do such a thing for me. Not even when I was a little girl singing worship songs with my dad on stage at summer camp would I believe that something like this would be part of my life at 18. Pathways has already begun to stretch me and change me in ways I would never have thought possible. (thanks Chris Opie and Craig Barrow) but the things I am learning, I continue to be blown away by. The people that I have been able to come into contact with because of this program blow my socks off. I am so glad I am not the only weird one out there, but there are others like me. I find myself growing in my knowledge and area of worship, in my walk with God, and in my prayer life.

The other thing that has happened is that God has continued to allow me to be apart of an amazing, growing, blossoming youth group that has God’s fingerprints all over it. Now if you had asked me three years ago if I would ever be apart of a youth group that was so on fire I would say no. This youth group has challenged me in so many areas that I can’t even begin to name them all. But the few that stick out as the most prominate is that I have had the privilege of having amazing youth pastors and leaders around me who have encouraged me to step up and use my gifts when I have wanted to shy away and just ignore the fact that I might have any to begin with. For me I am really insecure person (just being honest.) So to even think about getting up and sticking up my hand and saying “ya I will do that” scares the crap out of me! But in the last year, I have not only seen my guitar/singing abilities change and grow slowly, but I have had the opportunity of being able to preach two messages on things that God has been teaching me. I never would have even imagined doing something like that……EVER!!! But God has decided other wise. 😉 funny that ey. But I haven’t gotten up there doing it by myself, but I know that I have had not only the backing of a youth pastor who has looked over my sermon and my academic advisor (AKA my dad) but I have had the surrounding and prayer of people around the world. That in and of itself has allowed me to fall back into knowing I am not doing my life on my own and it isn’t me against the world like I used to think.

The other really neat God thing is that God has opened the door and allowed me to be able to, is as 1 Corinthians 11:1 says “Follow my example as I follow Christ’s” with some girls. I have had the the most knee knocking, scaring me half to death, but oh so rewarding opportunity to speak into the lives of some girls at my youth group as well as some that have been coming to the girls Bible study I have been holding in my house. To watch as the girls wrestle with God, and seek God and finally hit that point of surrendering to God has been amazing. And the fact that God doesn’t waste anything and has continued to use bits of my story to be a sign post to these girls has blown my mind to no end.

And as I sit here tonight I realized that all of those months of me saying “there has got to be a reason why Satan is attacking me so hard right now, there has got to be something in New Zealand that Satan isn’t happy about” is now all starting to make sense. As I was drifting off to sleep its like a light bulb went off in my head. Some of these things began to make sense, and it is like the veil of heaven got pulled back for a split second and some stuff finally started clicking. God has absolutely done a 180 with my life that I can take no credit for it, and I hope that I am becoming a woman that when people see me, they see nothing of me but every ounce of me gets to point back to God and His glory. No I am not writing this to say look at how great I am, but merely to humbly say that I am not who I used to be. I made a conscious decision to obey my God rather than my fear and insecurity and sin. Just like I chose to walk away, I also chose to walk back and say “actually God, You take back over my life because I did a messy job of it by my own hands”. So I guess what I wanted to communicate is that God was good and so faithful and so mind blowing and so merciful. God is good, when there was nothing good in me. He was hope, and He cover all of my sin. He was peace, when my fear was crippling. And I can now stand on this side of my battle and crap and look back and see how God is beginning to redeem my junk and strength gifts and talents I didn’t even know I had. 😛 I want to humbly say to you guys that I am not who I used to be, to that God gets all of the glory. I guess each time I have hit my knees that last couple of weeks, I feel an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and gratitude to God.

I know that God is still working on me. I am after all, human. And I know that I still have a long way to go, but I know that greater things are still yet to come in my own life. I am now excited for whatever is next (after I get through this crazy year!) I am no longer afraid of the future, or feel a need to control certain things in my life. I am merely grabbing God’s hands and walking this path with him. Or as I preached on Friday night, I am excited, to get in the boat with God and push out into the middle of the lake. I know that I still have my moments, I know I still make mistakes, but I know that in the end God still uses it, and I am continuing to seek after Him and whatever and however that may be.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well I say it takes a global village to raise a missionary kid. So I want to stop and thank all of you who have prayed over me and for me. I want to thank those of you who have added so much laughter to my life. Thank you for making me laugh when I have wanted to punch walls in. Thank you for those of you who have believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you to those of you who have pushed me to seek God or pushed me harder so that I can become better and stronger in some areas of my life. Thank you to some of you who I have been able to lean on when things have gotten tough or I have felt weak. You are all so important to me and I know I don’t say it enough or appreciate it enough. Thank you…each and every one of you. I don’t think I have big enough or long enough or even enough words to describe my thanks.

Thank you also to those of my friends both new and old. I know some of you might not realize the impact you have had on my life or how much you might have altered it and changed it, but you have. Some of you so dramatically changed it and some of you have sprinkled it. To each I am eternally grateful.

I wanted to close with this verse cause it kind of sums this all up:

Psalms 116:1-7

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.

06. Apr, 2012

Friday

Friday

I guess for me I always feel a tug at my heart to remember. To remember what it must have been like for the disciples on that Friday. Think about it, we have the assurance that Sunday was to come and Jesus would rise from the dead.  We have the privilege of knowing that He wins the victory.  But the disciples didn’t enjoy that luxury. That Friday was anything but good for them. Jesus, their King had just died in the most brutal way. Can you imagine? Can you imagine their hearts? They would have been devastated and so confused. Imagine their terror, their overwhelming sense that they would be next on a cross.  Oh I know people want to only remember Sunday, but what about Friday? Friday was a terrible day. I wrote a short poem from the perspective of a disciple…

What is going on?
How can He be gone?
I thought He was the King,
this destroys everything!
What if I was wrong
and He was posing all along?
Maybe He was just a man
who had a different plan.
I just don’t understand
His very life was at hand.
If He was Son of Man
why didn’t He thwart their plan?
Using His power,
in that final hour.
Instead He stayed quiet,
even as they started to riot.
They beat Him till He bled
and placed thorns on His head.
I couldn’t contain my tears
for this was the worst of my fears
my Jesus hung there
and no one seemed to care.
I still can’t believe it.
It just doesn’t fit.
How could He die,
what was the reason why?
God what do we do?
Who do we turn to?
Jesus has died!!
We have to hide!
We will mourn alone,
no one can hear us groan.
Our King has moved on.
All hope is gone!!!
Darkness has come.
What will I become?
Oh God it is done
Satan has won….

02. Jan, 2012

Remember to Take Your Vitamins in 2012

Remember to Take Your Vitamins in 2012

Bible and VitaminThanks to my beautiful bride, Melanie, I began taking a multi-vitamin supplement a few years ago.  The interesting thing with vitamins, though, is that I don’t feel a sudden burst of energy and health each time I take a vitamin.  Yet, I continue to take my vitamins each day knowing that in the long-run, my body will be stronger and healthier as a result of this discipline.

Over the last five years, I’ve sought to read through the Bible in a year and I’m doing it again in 2012.  To be honest, sometimes it takes discipline and hard work to stay on track.  There are days I’m not struck my some new truth or revelation about God, His Word and His plan for my life.  But, much like my vitamins, I know that by spending time in God’s word each day, I will grow stronger in my faith and my relationship with Him.

I’ve been able to tell in my attitudes and perspective when I have missed a few days and I work to catch back up and stay on track.  It becomes painfully evident that I haven’t been taking my vitamins.

So what about you?  As we start into a New Year, will you take up the challenge to read through God’s Word?  There are many great tools out there, some of the best are found at www.youversion.com.

16. Mar, 2011

For Such a Time as This

For Such a Time as This

Did it ever occur to you that God has given you a gift and ability for a reason? That He has equipped each person and placed them in the right place for the right time?

As Moses is laying out the instructions for building the tabernacle in Exodus 35 and 36, he tells the people that God had filled Bezalel and Oholiab with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship.

At this point in Israel’s history, they needed people with skill to build the tabernacle and to teach others.  And God filled and equipped people for the task, much like He equipped and filled Moses for the task of leading the people.

So, too, today.  God has equipped and filled you for a purpose and a task in His Kingdom.  Yet too often we sit back bemoaning that we don’t have someone else’s gift or that no one has recognized my gift or contribution. Instead, we ought to seek to use our gift for His glory.

I was struck by the reality of this last week when I was in Christchurch.  God has called, filled and equipped the church in Christchurch for such a time as this.  I saw the same thing after Hurricane Katrina.  God wasn’t fretting about the calamity and how His glory could be shown or who He could get to be His Hands and Feet.  He had already orchestrated that.

So how has God filled and equipped you for His service?  Are you walking in those gifts and using them?  I guarantee there is room, more than that, there is need in the church, in His Kingdom for those gifts!

08. Mar, 2011

A reason for my trials and sufferings…

A reason for my trials and sufferings…

How many of you have gone through a trial, or a suffering, or have just been so stressed that didn’t think that you would live to see the next season of your life, let along the next DAY of your life?  I bet you question God (as I have done) shook your fist at Him or turned your back because you were angry. I bet at one point or another you have shut your eyes and just sat in the corner waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the next season of life to beguine and for this part to be over with.  But the great thing about God is that He is still there for you, waiting with open arms for your return.

I have recently started a study by Kay Aurthur called Lord, give me a heart for you. And it is an AMAZING book. But day five of the first week really stood out to me, she had us read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, and then she brought about 4 points from those 11 verse, and let me tell ya, it was a tough slug. I was just sitting there like “oh my goodness, make so much sense.” And I began to thank God for taking me through my trial even though it hurt. I know, I know, you must be thinking “this girl is CRAZY! She thanks God for her trials?” But I learned that because of those trials, I have been able to reach out and touch people and help encourage people in a way I wasn’t able to before because of my trial. If you knew me two years ago, you would see that I am not the same girl I used to be, in both good and bad ways. But God, who pulled me out of my pit, also worked everything in my life for His good. He took my muck and yuck and screw ups and has started to make something beautiful for His kingdom. But I will back up a bit and just get on with what Miss Kay was teaching, because it is amazing.

The first point she brought up was this “Whatever brings pressure, or burdens you, or in modern-day terminology whatever stresses you out-God is there with adequate comfort. Now just stop and think about that. So often when we are stressed or we go through a trial we miss that fact that God is subtly comforting us and there helping us and gently trying to get us out of the pit that we have dug for ourselves. Miss Kay said that we can never “out-suffer our God’s comfort”. And that is an incredible thing to think about. No matter how hard you have fallen, or how far or how fast or how deep, God is still there waiting to comfort you, and to heal you. You might at this point be saying “that is all fine and great Christina, but I can do without suffering.” I am here to tell you that Biblically, that is impossible. We can’t be a Christian and live happy chappy lives that are always perfect and full of good times, because if we don’t suffer, we miss out on God’s adequate comfort. You can’t get His comfort unless you suffer. Verse 5 of 2 Corinthians 1 says that.

You can be sure that that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ.”

Not only that but verse 7 also says “We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share in God’s comfort.” Did you hear that, CONFIDENT. Meaning without a shadow of doubt Paul is confident that you WILL share in God’s comfort, no questions asked, no ands, ifs, or buts.

The second point Miss Kay brought into light is that “our suffering always benefits others.”……..What the heck? Is this girl crazy? She must be on something right? Benefit others? YA RIGHT!  LOL…No I am not smoking anything funny, and yes I am crazy, but not when it comes to my Bible and the Truth of what God has said. It is so true, that when we suffer and go through a trial,  AND if we allow God to work in us and heal us,  we come out the other side WITH God.  Our experience, then  and the knowledge of what God has taught us we can turn around and help others with. Verse 6 of 2 Corinthians really spells it out.

“So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we in turn can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.”

I wish I had known this way back at the beginning of my trials. I wish that I had known that one day, all the crap I was going  through, would later help others to get through their trails as well. Miss Kay said it  in such a way that was so amazing I not only highlighted it, but I underlined it and asterisked it in my book. Let me ask you a question for a minute. Is there someone in your life right now, or in your past, that as you shared in their pain or suffering, you realized that because of what you had gone thru it had given you more understanding and compassion towards them? If you have, then I just want you to stop and think about that for a minute. How cool is God that He allowed you to be able to comfort, strengthen, and support all because you had journeyed  yourself in a dark time and understood pain? Other saw your example of endurance, and it caused them to endured.”

Here is the point that really gets me, ready for this? “What greater joy could there be than knowing that whatever your trial or tragedy you experienced under the hand of your sovereign God was not wasted but used.”  That truth right there is SO important. I know Romans 8:28 totally get’s over used but it is so true.  “And we KNOW that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” That little word “know” in your Bible means with absolute certainty.  Sometimes in the midst of our storm and our struggle we lose sight of that truth. God does not waste what you have gone through, no matter how dark it might seem.  In His time when He thinks you are ready He will bring someone along your path whom you can encourage just as God had encouraged you.

I have the NLT and love it, but in The Message I really liked how verse 4 of 2 Corinthians 1 stated it. “He comes along side us when we go through hard time and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just like God was there for us.” God is not going to let anything go to waste, so you can either take God at His word and know that Romans 8:28, and Jeremiah 29:11 is truth, or you can turn your back on God and think He doesn’t know what He is doing and why would He care about your trials.

The third point is that “God carries us beyond what we would otherwise be able to endure.”  Verse 9 states-“In fact  we expected to die. But as a result we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.” God can carry you beyond your trials. It’s funny, as I was reading this it was the day after the women’s bible study video and Pricilla Shirer was preaching out of Ephesians 4:20-21 and this is what she said “God is able to do beyond your beyond. You dream and you say, “God this would be cool”, and that is your line or what you think is beyond your wildest dreams. But God can go beyond your beyond, and He can go beyond your beyond and ‘beyond’!” And it is so true. We are mere humans and cannot even comprehend all that God could and would do.  Our small “insignificant” brains as Louie Gigilo would say, cannot wrap around the greatness and the awesome dynamite power that God possess. To further illustrate her point Miss Kay says this “When we go beyond our limit, than we experience the supernatural intervention of God and we know that it’s God. And we’ll never forget it. It will be a genuine experience that will always remind us of that total sufficiency of His grace, grace perfected, brought to completion in our weakness.” You might be sitting there today thinking, “I wish God would just stop my storm now, I want it to be over and done and I don’t want to deal with this crap anymore.” But sometimes, we have to get to the very bottom of the pit, the deepest darkest place before we can look up and see God and believe God, and once we hit that place God says “Finally my child, you see me.” And I am not saying that God likes it when this happens. His heart breaks every time one of his children steps outside of the comfort of their God box, and freely chooses to walk in sin, His heart breaks. But sometimes we stubborn sinful humans have to reach the very bottom of that pit before we look up and realize that His grace is sufficient, and we have to say “God I am not strong enough to deal with this, but I know you are, so please help me, and heal me.” I would have loved it if God had pulled me out of my pit sooner. I would have loved it if God had calmed the storm sooner then what he did. But He didn’t and I know now that if He had pulled me out sooner, I would not have learned about His amazing grace and fallen more deeply in love with Him.

The final point is that affliction produces corporate prayer. Verse 11 “He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks for God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered.”  My family has a network of prayer warriors, people we ask in specific to pray for us for certain things in our lives that are going on. When I was going through my trial, we had people around the world praying for me, and for my mom and dad and brother and sister. As I stand on this side of my storm, I can look back and see the power of prayer and how it totally helped.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

I want to ask you, do you have someone that you can grab and link up arms when you are weak? Do you have someone that you can go to when you know that you are struggling that you can get prayer from? If you don’t I want to encourage you to find someone or multiple someone’s that you can ask when things get rough to pray for you. As Ephesians 6:18 says “Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.” The power of prayer is very powerful and sometimes we water it down or we use it as a flippant statement of “oh I will pray for you.” But I am standing before you today because of the power of prayer that was never ceasing.  Prayer is our best and most powerful weapon of defense against the devil. If I can, I really really want to encourage you to find someone to link up arms with. To travel through the storm with you loving, encouraging and praying for you. So that maybe, just maybe you won’t have the same pain and heartache that I have experienced.

I know this had become a long note, but I just wanted to share some of the things that God has taught me, in hopes that they might encourage you as well.

25. Jan, 2011

Misrepresenting God

I’ve read through Job multiple times and the classic themes of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness amidst suffering were evident again, but I was struck by something new this time through.

In Job 42:7, God tells Eliphaz that He is angry with him and his friends because they have not spoken accurately about God. They must not only offer a sacrifice, but ask Job to pray for them. They had so misrepresented God, that Job had to pray for them so that God would then forgive them!

It caused me to pause and consider…have I spoken accurately about God? Yes, when I’m given opportunity to teach and preach, I am very conscious of making sure I represent God as accurately as I can.

But it is much more than that. Do I speak accurately about God through my attitudes, words and actions in every day life? Do my wife and children see an accurate representation of God in my life? Do the people I encounter at the shoppes or as I travel see an accurate representation of God in me?

After seeing how I live and interact with others, would God be angry with me because I did not represent Him accurately?

A question we each should carefully consider.

05. Jan, 2011

Jumping to Conclusions

I always find it interesting and challenging to read through Job. After all, here is a guy who was hugely blessed and then had *everything* taken away and his response is, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”

There are so many lessons from the book of Job, but I’ve been struck this time through by Job’s “friends.” They are very well meaning. After all, they leave their normal lives and just come and sit with Job in his time of sorrow and suffering. But they likely would have been better to just draw the line there, sit in silence, pray and comfort.

As I’ve been reading their responses, I’ve been amazed by how quick they were to jump to conclusions and to judge. They were convinced that their friend was in this spot because of his own sin and they made sure he knew that.

Now I recognize that no one is perfect, including Job, but we are privy to the fact that this was a trial that God allowed, not because of Job’s sin, but in actuality, because of his righteousness. If Job wasn’t a righteous man, this would not have been afflicted on him…ponder that thought for a moment as well.

So I am left again to ponder two thoughts; would God ever offer me up to Satan as an example of a faithful servant who would not curse God in the midst of trial and tribulation, and am I like Job’s friends, quickly jumping to conclusions and being judgmental towards people around me without seeing or knowing God’s bigger picture?