Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! :)

I have had such a great holiday season! I haven't been blogging at all and won't be until at least the 10th when my parents leave. We are having the best time! Thank you God so so much for time with them!

I am looking forward to another year. I can't believe it is 2009 tomorrow. I remember thinking back in the 80's and 90's how crazy it would be to be in the 2000's...... now we're 9 years into the 2000's and it IS still crazy feeling!

Time goes faster every year --- my grandma taught me that mathematically makes sense - since each year that you are older - one year is less of a percentage of your life. (For example when I was five a year was 1/5th of my life. Now that I'm 25 a year is only 1/25th of my life!)...

so each year DOES seem faster because it's a smaller percentage of my life. They really do just fly by. I sound like such an old lady saying that. For some reason - after you have a child the time passes that much quicker. I think because they just change SO much and the days go by so fast when there's so much fun to be had! :)

2008 has been a great year. I have no words to describe all I have been blessed with this year. I am so undeserving of all of it - thank you God for everything.

I pray for health and joy and hope for me & my family and all my friends. May people's hearts to be open to you God. May the message of eternal peace & joy that only the One and Only Savior could bring be spread more this year than ever before. May the Spirit comfort all of us as none of us is without struggles. May we praise you in our storms and in our victories. May we honor you with our time and not take one day for granted.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Struggles

I have been thinking about pain & struggles a lot recently. I see wonderful healing all around me almost daily ---- physical, spiritual, relational.... but I also see and have seen terrible pain & heartache and loss. This earth is really full of horrible things. Sometimes it's a direct result of our own sin. Sometimes it's just the result of living in a world that is run by satan. A fallen world that is full of sin and destruction. We are in the territory of the thief who comes to seek & destroy.

For a long time I've been trying to figure out the "formula" and logic for why things happen at certain times. Why some are healed why some are not. Trying to understand why healings are always done in different ways, times. The impact of prayer. Why God allows things to happen. How to heal. What power I have if any in all of this...

So as you can imagine my heart & mind are just full. Dwelling on all this for too long gets me frustrated & burnt out.

But there are some things I do know: I absolutely believe that only good can come from God. He is only good. He is loving and all good things come from Him. He can't DO bad but He can allow it to happen. My post I did on free will & His sovereignty touched on this...

but as I sat crying because I was at the end of my rope thinking about all this.... and crying over some past experiences with pain and illness and cruelty last night..... God did plant some seeds in my heart that turned on my tear faucet stronger than it's flowed in a long time. I went to bed knowing 2 things...
a) that God has His reasons for allowing things to happen or not
b) I'm not God.

I have to let Him be God. I can not put Him in a box that says if we do xyz, He will always do xyz. He can't be described with logic, formulas or any other earthly reasoning. If we even begin to understand something --- then it's not God. and I realized I had to be okay with that. So I released Him again last night out of the boxes I was trying to put Him in.

this morning as I sat journaling to Him.... I asked Him if I couldn't have ALL the reasons and understanding as to why He allows pain & struggle then could He please give me an example of ONE reason. I opened my Bible and flipped open to my reading for the day. John 9 and verse 3 was like woah.... go read it.... I thought, thank you God. There was one reason right there! It made me cry - God was talking to ME. I was so undeserving of His attention and His love but He gave it.

That seed He spoke into me was good enough for me for toady. I could have stopped there. I was okay with knowing that SOME of the time He allows pain to show the work of God in people's life. I get that. So SOME of the times He allows pain for His glory to be revealed right then or shortly after. I really believe He can be glorified when people have endured pain and then are healed --- which is what I believe this verse was referring to - because Jesus healed that man. I understand that during pain, God's glory can be revealed when healing takes place - healing that could ONLY come from God.

I also get that during pain or struggle, God's glory can be revealed when the heavy burden is NOT lifted --- but the person is strengthened. When the person still clings to God and praises Him despite their situation. That sort of unexplainable strength and comfort despite all our surroundings that tell us opposite - could ONLY be from God.

So that was enough for me --- but when we ask for something God always gives more than what we expect right?!?! Because then hubby came into the room and said, "Randi this is what I'm trying to memorize for mentoring men on saturday - can you listen to them while I read it?" Can you guess what the verses were about!??!?! Look at this! This is what he read to me:

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:1-5

Woah. Suffering produces perserverance. Perserverance produces character. Character produces hope. Hope never disappoints.

So as you can imagine, I was balling. I just kept saying - I hear you God. I get it. There ARE reasons. You are a loving God and you are in control and you do allow bad to happen but you can use the bad - for our good!

So you'd think that He had poured into me enough. He was talking directly to me all morning. I was so full of joy and thankfulness. Not that I had all the answers --- but that I trusted again that HE did and He reassured me He did. He gave me LITTLE glimpses into why bad things do happen. Just to reassure me that there are reasons for things and that He sees the big picture, which I can't see.

Sooo really I was so joyful and at peace. I was thanking Him for giving me some reminders. But then I got an email..... and guess what IT was about!??!! YES the same thing!! Check this out:

All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Sometimes we go through struggle to increase our empathy for others. So that we can relate to others. So that we can encourage others. So that we can comfort others. I have gone through this many times. God allows us to cross paths with those who have simliar struggles to link arms and walk together. So there was yet another good that could come out of bad!!!

So thank you God for helping me understand some ways that bad could be used for good!

but there was one more thing on my heart this morning. I realized I could accept that God really could use bad experiences for His own glory and for the good of His followers (Romans 8:28).....

but the thing I have the hardest time with is when these horrible things happen to people who don't know Him. Who already don't have a lot of trust or faith in Him. There was one situation in particular that I have had a hard time with since it happened when I was in 4th grade. It was this situation that brought the most tears to me last night. It was the heartache I felt for the family that I grew up with that was literally close as brothers/sisters to us. The boy of their family died when I was in 4th grade. He was a year older than me. I think about them a lot. They still do mean a lot to us though the years have drifted us apart geographically. I didn't realize how much frustration I had over this situation.

In my journal this morning I wrote: God they didn't believe. Why them? I can understand how you could allow things to happen to those who trust you and have faith in you and will allow you to be glorified. But what about families like this one God. What can I say to them? Should I reach out to them? What are they thinking now? Why didn't you heal him? Wouldn't they have believed in you then and they would have run to you? Are they angry with you? Have they ever come to you or do they want nothing to do with you?

So the day went on.... we went to a friends house. I called my mom and this is how our conversation went:

Mama: can you believe it Randi I'm still in my pajamas.

Randi: wow mama that is not like you at all.

M: believe it or not I was on the phone with ____ for over an hour this morning.

This is the mom of the little boy I just wrote about. My "aunt"!!!!

R: **mouth drops to floor almost had to pull over as instant tears came. I knew that God was about to talk directly to me again** No way mom. You are not kidding are you!? You haven't talked to her in months and haven't talked that long on the phone in years.

M: Yeah I'm not kidding. I just got off with her. Why are you crying? We had a great conversation.

R: I'm crying because I literally JUST journaled about them this morning. I told my mom everything I had been talking with Brandon about last night. and journaling about this morning. What did you all talk about??

M: wow it seems you've had a lot on your heart.... well wait until you hear this then. I think God wants me to tell you what she said. She said to me, "ya know people ask me all the time if I'm angry at God for taking ___ from us. Although I am pretty sure I was angry with Him for a long time and that I even turned from Him. I absolutely know now that God cried with me in that hospital. I absolutely know He was heartbroken with me. As I sat crying and hugging my baby boy those last minutes.... I felt God hugging us. He was there and He held us up. I'm not mad at Him. I love Him. crap happens."

so at this point I had just lost it. I was out right balling like a baby. I really believed that this entire family had given up on Him. Oh my lack of faith...... but the last deep conversations I had had with them - were not positive faithful conversations. I didn't understand why God would allow such a tragedy to happen to people who didn't know Him that close yet. I wanted to play God in this situation. I really felt I knew what was best for this situation. In my mind, he would have been healed. All glory and praise would have gone to God. We all would have witnessed a miracle and I felt it would be the thing to turn this family all to Him. but instead.... because of this situation...she is closer to Him now. Yes the kids are still struggling. Yes the devil is still trying to get into their hearts & minds. but God reassured me that God was God that the Spirit is the Spirit and I am neither. Just because things don't happen how *I* thought God would do them - doesn't mean God had left the situation.

I don't know all the lessons I am supposed to learn right now from all of this.

but I have had such huge revelations in the past 12 hours though. He has reminded me that:
a) I'm not God. He is God
b) because I'm not God there is much I do not understand. There is much I don't see. I will never see the big picture like He does.
c) He is listening to me. He cares. He knows when I'm at my breaking point and need to hear from Him. He was right here for me today and gave Himself abundantly to me to reassure me.
d) there are reasons for why things happen
e) there is no way to absolutely describe Him, predict Him or explain Him
f) it's not my job to.
g) I'm not here to get Him to do MY will. I am here to do His.
h) the Holy Spirit is who reaches to people and nudges them. I don't have to worry. If I'm supposed to be used to reach to somebody - He will use me and He will give me the words to say
i) patience.
j) faith
k) trust
l) hope

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Under Attack but Rescued

I haven't been blogging because Brandon has been needing the computer for work more than usual.... but I've still been writing in my journal daily. It really is so nice to be without the computer. I have such a love/hate with all this technology. I love it that I have been able to use it for so much good.... I love the connections I can have with other adults throughout my days filled with 2 year old fun... yet it can become so much noise and distraction and I can even start to be dependent on it for certain things - which isn't good. I want to be dependent on God and God alone. When Brandon takes the computer, it's so good to get rid of that temptation to be on the it and I'm almost forced into solitude during raymond's nap - which is a great thing.

Although I am rescued and don't even need to think anymore about what has been going on --- I do want to write about what has been happening. I have really been under attack. When the devil wants to get in... he always seems to attack our marriage first. and I know why. I absolutely believe that marriage is such a huge threat to the enemy. It is the most sacred relationship we have on earth and when Brandon & I are unified and both growing in Christ --- I literally feel so protected, covered, loved, have so much faith and strength. It's like nothing can stop us when we're our solid chord of three. When we are spiritually intimate --- our intimacy in all areas is so much more full and beautiful and satisfying. It will never cease to amaze me what a beautiful relationship marriage is and I completely see why it's a representation of Jesus relationship with the church. When we believe in each other - we feel there is nothing God can not do with us, through us! It's just such an awesome testimony to me that God can take two completely opposite & different people and be able to work in them & through them to love each other despite our failings.. be able to work through conflicts and lift each other up, focusing on the good in each other and taking the bad with the good. Being totally committed. Committed to forgive as I said in my vows. For Brandon to be able to see and know all my junk but love me anyway --- wow that's powerful.

Brandon is absolutely the best tool that God has shown me to show love, mercy, patience, unconditional love, commitment.... yet I know that this works in both ways. He isn't perfect nor am I and we will not always be christlike for each other. We can also be the devil to each other. We can tear each other down.... discourage... and make each other feel so inferior & unworthy.

It seems to me throughout our years together one is always up and one is always down. In my moments or seasons of dryness - of just spiritual burden... Brandon always seems to be at his best times. Full of faith & so close to God. and I know God does that for a reason. That is why the chord of 3 is so powerful. (Ecclesiates 4:12) We are strong despite one's moments of weakness.

I started pouring out everything on my heart last night and Brandon was discerning enough to know the devil was planting some horrible seeds in me. He could have rebuked my lack of faith, my complaining attitude.... but he recognized what I needed and he loved me like God wanted him to. Brandon had a 15 hour work day yesterday!!!!!!! but he dropped everything he was working on (after 15 hours away from the house) and came and took me in his arms and knelt before the Lord asking Him to rescue me. I could do nothing but cry. I felt God's love through Brandon's arms, through his words and tender heart. I was so thankful that Brandon had been in the Word so much and so close to God recently. I really needed him. (Ecclesiates 4:11). He saw I was battling and that I needed somebody to come to me and intercede for me. He asked for the Comforter to come and speak for me and to blanket me with peace & comfort and it was one of the most beautiful moments of our marriage.

I had not shed tears like that in so long and boy did it feel good. When I am going through a spiritual battle and dry season for so long --- I should be able to recognize it right away (but I don't) because I have no tears during those seasons. I am just unable to cry. It's like my heart is literally hard and though I feel like I'm crying inside - they don't come (which is SO unlike me - I'm such a crier!)... so to release all of this last night was so good.

In moments like this - when God finds me and rescues me and brings me back into the light --- it's a very powerful moment. I can physically feel myself being lifted out of darkness. It's like I find myself again. and my heart feels like, "where have I been all this time".... really. where do I go? and then the remorse I feel for how I've acted toward God & Brandon & those around me. It reminds me of that scene from Steel Magnolias when Julia Roberts character has a diabetic attack and then when she awakens out of it and finds herself again - she all of a sudden realized how she acted when she lost herself. Yet despite all that remorse I feel in those times, He washes all that away when I acknowledge my errors, confess them and turn from it.

when you get married - you are no longer your own flesh.... the 2 of you together are one flesh. Therefore, as Brandon told me --- when we only go to God separately - we are only 1/2 of us praying. We had not been praying together and it was affecting all areas - but last night as we prayed and called out to God together - I felt so complete again. and we thought --- man what happened? How did we get so off track? The devil is so sneaky - it's such a gradual thing to separate and drift apart - we didn't even notice.

I want to write down what the devil had been saying to me - so when he says it again, I will hopefully recognize it for what it is next time:

I am not trying hard enough. I doubt I'll ever be used for God like He wants to use me. What value is even in my days? What difference does my life even make? I'm totally average and my talents and gifts are going to go to waste. I may go to heaven and God might be totally disappointed in my entire life. Am I doing all I should right now? What am I not doing that I should be? Am I supposed to be using my skills differently? am I not doing enough? or maybe it's opposite - maybe I'm trying to do too much and not giving enough time to brandon & raymond. maybe I'm sinning because I'm not being content to "just" be a mom & wife. Those are the roles I have right now - and I'm doing a miserable job even in those roles. (then he starts listing all the things in my mind I should be doing differently with Raymond... what I'm not doing good enough.. what he's not doing good enough and all the cruel things people to say to me that make me feel guilt that I'm not a good enough mother and make me doubt myself) or maybe I AM supposed to "just" be a mom & wife right now and I'm ruining it all ---will this time as mom & wife pass me by so fast and I'll regret never truly appreciating this time with Raymond & Brandon? I really am a horrible mom & wife. I'm failing.

and when I started to share some of these doubts.... Brandon knew enough to help me.

oh God I can't thank you enough for your patience with me. Thank you so much God for those throughout my life that help get me out of these pits. I absoultely know that my childlike naive faith for you & your Body and my love and my heart for you is such a threat to the enemy and he is going to do what he can to keep me down... but God I need help. I know in my heart that he has no power -- why do I continue to let him in? Please God guard me. Guard my heart. Keep me focused on your words.... because you have always lifted me up. You don't put thoughts like that in my mind. You have always gently loved me. You have always been there no matter how many times I've turned away. Please God make your voice so clear that I don't even hear any others. Keep me in your light God. help me recognize the devil's tricks right away and rebuke them.

Thank you God for never giving up on me. Thank you for my wonderfully complex & challenging & rewarding & beautiful marriage. It's so deep and not at all fake. We are so authentic with each other - never holding anything back and although it causes pain..... it's so beautiful to be so vulnerable. Thanks for all you've poured into Brandon to prepare him for just those moments last night.

Help me be the woman you designed me to be God.




Monday, November 17, 2008

Newborn or Weaned Child

I received the following devotional email the other day and it really touched me. Here is the email in italics and my response following:

Nurturing a Quiet Soul
by Jon Walker

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2 (NIV)
*** *** *** ***
My older sister, Lori Hensley, a very serious prayer warrior, once taught me to meditate on Psalm 131 to help me move toward God’s peace that passes all understanding:
We keep our hearts humble. This doesn’t mean we have a low opinion of ourselves. A humble heart means we know our position in Christ, and so we stop being responsible for the things of which we were never responsible. This frees us to live like God intended and allows us to make uncluttered choices that will move us closer to God.

We show the maturity of a weaned child. The nursing child demands attention now, but the weaned child trusts and is content to wait. We quietly center ourselves on God, peacefully, without agitation and anxiety, and trust God is actively supporting us.

We hope in the Lord with confident expectation. Truth says God will answer our prayers; he will respond to our needs; he will pave the path before us now and forever (Psalm 18:36).


I often find myself acting like an infant, a child of God not yet weaned. I want what *I* want.... and I want it NOW. and I'm not talking about material wants. I'm talking about spiritual wants. The plans I have for my life. I want to be used a certain way by Him... in a certain time. I want my skills to be used NOW rather than later. I want to make a difference in this certain place, at this certain time....

I know He has put dreams in my heart for a reason --- but there's a real problem when that dream becomes my focus. Why can't I learn this lesson? Why every few months do I have a post like this? I need to really and truly get over this cycle. I notice the pattern every time - I begin to see how others are used, I begin to look at other's ministries and see how they are doing things.... even though my heart tells me, "comparison is the root of all inferiority" --- I do lose focus and look at those around me. I begin to feel like *I* am ready for something to happen, that I'm SO ready to be used in a certain way... that I must just not be pushing hard enough.... so I start trying to take matters into my own hands instead of recognizing that my job is to trust, to wait, to be still and know that HE is God and I am not. Yes, there are times we must push forward, take leaps of faith, and take action to move closer --- but He will show us when those times are upon us. He does not want me to have anxiety or worry over missing any boat. He doesn't want me to fear disappointing Him.

Bottom line is that if I am with Him - then He will take me where I'm supposed to go. If He is in me and I am in Him, then obviously there is no possible way His plans for me will not be fulfilled.

I should focus a lot more on being with Him, on allowing Him to live in me.... then trying to DO for Him.

He again is reminding me of this lesson. I am so glad He reminds me of these lessons now to protect me from hurt later. I want so badly to learn this lesson now.... for if I don't --- one day I will wake up and realize that in all my desire & action & constant striving to DO for Him... I totally missed out on being with Him.

God please show me when to be Mary Randi and when to be Martha Randi. Please God help me learn this lesson once and for all to my core. Soothe my worries, cover my concerns with your assurance that YOU have the plans and I don't need to (Jer 29:11).... don't allow my personality weaknesses to get in the way of my personality strengths.

Help me God in my walk with you. Help me to grow up and out of his newborn stage of worry, impatience, discouragement. Help me to have discipline to have time of solitude with you daily. Remind me again how to "just be" with you. I love you father God. I know that you are telling me that if I want to move forward --- it's time to take some steps back from life and run to you. Help me have confident expectation in your plans for me God. Help me be content to wait...


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love for The Body

I have been getting so many responses from my comments on other's blogs that had the theme of, "oh randi your love for The Body is so strong and beautiful".... and I didn't know what to think of those responses except, "really?" I wasn't even trying to portray that message... but somehow my love for The Body shone through.....I DO LOVE the Body of Christ.... BUT

I know myself, and I know how imperfect I have been in relationships with others. I have sinful moments of selfishness & let frustration & discouragement take over when dealing with individuals. Sometimes I do assume the worst in others without giving them the benefit of the doubt. In my past, I have actually had some really deep issues with a few relationships in The Body (LBF, if you read this... I love you sister. I pray that someday God can bring restoration into our relationship and fill us up with love for each other). I have not shown grace & mercy to others when needed. I am impatient and want to change others, rather than letting the Spirit do His work. More times than I want to think about, I have taken my eyes of God therefore leaving room for the devil to plant seeds in my heart which carried over into my relationships which resulted in harsh words, tones & attitudes.

BUT despite my own failings, I absolutely am determined to do whatever I can to have strong and healthy relations in the Body. I don't believe there's a higher calling for us as The Body but to love each other. To focus on the good in each other. To love The Body as a whole and to love the individual parts of the Body we are in contact with. That's the testimony we should be showing to others outside of the Body who see enough conflict, hatred, animosity, judgement, disunity and exclusivity in the world all around us.

Love doesn't come in the form of perfect peace & harmony & smily hugs at all times. It comes in the form of disagreements, butting heads & conflicting.... yet growing closer somehow in the long term because of our desire to not give up on the relationships. It comes in the form of acceptance of people very different from us. Growing stronger together because of our unification in Christ. It comes in the form of seeing imperfections in each other yet loving each other exactly as we are. It comes in the form of enough faith in the transforming power of the Spirit to do His work and to just be patient while He does His thing. Having faith for each other when we are weak. Lifting each other up when we're discouraged. Praying for each other.

Love for The Body as an entity comes in the same forms. Patience. Never judging another part of The Body's spiritual maturity by whatever criteria or factors we choose. Focusing on the good in each other. Praying for each other. Believing in The Body as a whole. Believing in God that He will transform and mold us. Conflicting in different areas of The Body yet getting over it somehow. Focusing on our unification in Christ. Seeing imperfections in each other yet loving each other exactly as we are.

My spiritual mentor to this day although she is no longer with us, is my grandma, who passed on in May 2007. She was the one who showed me never to give up on The Body. Never to stop attending church in some form. She went through a heck of a lot in her years with The Body. She saw a lot of stuff in the Body I pray I never see --- but she never gave up on it.

God please help people who aren't part of The Body see how much we love each other. Help us exude patience, mercy, love, and acceptance. I desire so strongly for my life to glorify God by living up to the 2 greatest commandments we are to follow:

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:37-39

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 2 Thes 1:3

Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. I Thes 5:13

Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. I Thes 4:9

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. I Thes 3:12

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 2 Cor 8:8

The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13:9

This is my command: Love each other John 15:17

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Psalm 85:10

I truly believe the best antecdote when we find ourselves lacking love for The Body is time away in solitude with God. Asking Him to fill us back up with love for each other. Asking Him to please step in the gap for us and be the bridge to others. Usually when we talk about "building a bridge" we're talking about people in vs. people out of The Body -- but we need bridges within the Body!

Remember we are not connected to God through The Body. We are connected to The Body through God.

I believe when we are full of animosity toward any people or person, we should pour out our hearts and frustrations and negatives to Him and ask Him to somehow fill us with love & patience & peace & mercy & faith. Not to ignore our frustrations, but to talk to Him first and above all... about the issues you are facing to find out if you're supposed to act on what you're seeing or simply allow Him to do His work and take it in as information for a later time. Sometimes in rare cases He will ask us to act... but many times He will ask us to be patient, pray, focus on the good we see and to be the example.

As 2 people in The Body move closer to God, they are automatically drawn closer to each other.... for more thoughts on that idea, there's some thoughts in the middle paragraph on this post....
http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com/2008/08/differences-are-okay.html

God please fill me with love for those that hurt me. For those I am impatient with. For those I wish to see changed now rather than later. Please fill up the hearts of those that I have hurt. Please God ease my discouragement over things I see wrong. Help me trust you that you're at work. Please God help us as a Body cling tighter. Help us glorify you in a world full of everything but love, acceptance & unity. Help us recognize how much power there is in unity and that Christ is the ultimate unifier. May people look at us and see a Body they would want to be apart of because whether we like it or not & whether we claim it or not, as followers of Christ, we are all a family. I pray that none of my friends will get discouraged enough to the point of giving up.


photo by MomMom

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Change

I've been reading a lot about change, as I'm sure we all are because of the mantra of change thorughout this political campaign. I read a blog entry recently about change, marketing, branding, and making sure not to fake ourselves out - that outward changes are no good without inward change....I can't remember which blog it was - so I'm sorry I can't give credit --- if it is your blog, tell me so I can give you credit! I can't stop thinking about that entry.... here is my response to it:

I'm pretty sure it's just ingrained in my personality to love change. Weird enough, I thrive on routine but I love change. I love organization but I just feel the need for constant change... the organization I guess is the melancholy side and the need for constant change is the driver side (from Personality Plus -- love that book).

It seems to me, when people feel the need for change, they always start on the outside. This is true individually and corporately in any field. Marketers try to change the advertisements or packaging.... churches try to change the marketing material & look of the church... people get new hairstyles, start exercising more or buy new clothes...

but the Bible teaches us differently. I will put this on an individual level but really on my heart right now is the corporate level.

It seems to me that if God is stirring us that it's time to change - and we go out and cut and dye our hair - we have just totally missed His point and we're faking ourselves out. Jesus taught us to be careful of people & organizations that do this (like the Pharisees in Matthew). But, when we allow Him to change us inside... then the outward follows. The first thing to prosper should always be inside - the unseen.

I think this is a great lesson for any person or any organization. If you feel the need for change - BE the change you want to see by allowing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to re-train your brain, your heart, your thoughts... which will change your habits.. which will change your actions... which will change your life.

There's never a successful transformation inside that doesn't somehow show itself on the outside. BUT if you just make changes on the outside (hoping the inside will follow), that never changes the inside long term. And you will be headed down an unsatisfying path of wander and disappointment.

I truly believe we all need to focus on the inside change above all else --- rather than trying to convince others with our appearances we are changed --- show them by our lives, allowing Him to change us to be the change we want to see in the world.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Salt, Hope, Change

I receive a lot of resistance & opposition from fellow brothers & sisters and Christ when I talk about morality or morals in any way, shape or form. I was actually starting to believe that it's impossible to even talk about morality (the absolute right & wrong that God laid out at the foundation of the earth) without people assuming you are being judgemental, legalistic or proud.

My heart was so heavy in the confusion of figuring out how to uphold the morality I know is True yet to always be loving, merciful and humble. Is it even possible? or should morality just not be discussed at all? Only shown by example? Because Jesus came and fulfilled the 'law' - should we not talk about it at ALL and ONLY talk about the love & freedom & peace Jesus brings!? Does having mercy & love mean that you don't talk about righteousness or truth because it points out brokenness in others?

Well after a pretty healthy break down.... I asked God to please clear up this confusion. To grow my moral backbone. I told Him that I was willing to come face to face with my sin in this area and I wanted Him to tell me if I had been going about this all wrong and wasn't focusing on Him enough. And He answered me!!! He told me to look at the examples of His first disciples, the truths of the early church. So I flipped to Acts & Romans thinking it would be a good place to start - to figure out what Luke & Paul talked about. Did they talk only of Jesus love and forgiveness of sins through faith in Him, or did they talk about immorality, right and wrong, repentance. After pouring through it and reading it as if I was reading it for the first time, my eyes were so open, the Light HURT them!

Jesus & Morality

Jesus did not abolish morality though all sins and immorality are now forgiveable through faith in Him! He took away eternal consequences of our sins, but sin very much has natural consequences and He very much wants us out of gratitude to allow Him to change us through His Word and through time with Him --- to become more like Him every day. Not for us to put on appearances or go through rituals or routines to try to change ourselves... but to allow Him to flow through us and do His transforming work! Paul is very clear that there are fruits of the Spirit and there are fruits of the flesh. God clearly desires us to have fruits of the Spirit and be examples for others of what the Spirit can do!

We are to repent of making idols out of everything in our worldly lives and turn to God and allow Him to change us. If we do not, He will "give us over to the sinful desires of our hearts". Please go read and Romans 1:24-32 and Romans 2:5-11. Don't you see this in America!?

We allow Him to change us and to strive for righteousness not to earn His favor or eternal life--- Jesus took care of that.... but out of gratitude for all He's done and because if we don't, sin will entangle and detour us from the plan He has for us. (Yes He can and will work out ALL things for our good (Romans 8:28) --- but what blessings is He having to hold back or hold off because of us following our own will and not His?).

Morality talked about in the Body

After reading Acts & Romans I absolutely know that morality/God's standard through the Word of God MUST be talked about amongst the Body. Acts & Romans were written (I believe?) to new believers and existing churches ---- and morality & repentance from sins was very much talked about. NOT to condemn but to point out sin. The Word is very clear that we are not to condemn.... but it's very clear we are to discern right and wrong. We are called to encourage each other & to help others steer away from immorality. To help people understand their brokenness. I believe that there's a time and place and way to do this and it's our job to learn how to listen to the Spirit when to confront issues and when to just listen to our hurting brothers & sisters. I truly believe relationships must be built before 'sharpening' comes --- because people don't care what you know until they know you care. But, when asked directly, no matter if there's a strong relatoniship there or not -- we should answer. Sometimes it's more important to be kind than right when building relationships.... but it's never okay to be kind and compromise truth.

We know that too many for too long have been prideful, condemning & judgemental with the excuse of trying to promote morality and point out brokenness.... but we can change that. We don't have to answer for what they have done wrong --- we do have to answer for what WE do. Just because many have done wrong while trying to stick up for morality, doesn't mean we just don't even try at all!

On another note... I just wanted to remind myself that we all will fail and will get in the way of the Spirit transforming us... but we don't have to be embarassed or ashamed when we fail... we don't have to try to cover up and hide all our sin blemishes. People have to see us humble and broken but seeking out knowledge, seeking out the truth and allowing the Spirit to change us to become more righteous daily. Just because we won't get a touchdown every time - doesn't mean we don't try for a first down. Keep on trying for first downs and to get toward that end zone. People have to see us wholeheartedly seeking to follow this Lamp unto our feet, His Word.

So my point is......
God would never allow us to see the sin & brokenness in others to condemn, judge or make them feel ashamed.... but to sharpen each other! To help pull people closer to God.


Our role with non believers

As far as our interactions with non-believers.....I really believe talking about Jesus' love and acceptance & leading by example should be our primary focus. Acts & Romans were written to new believers & churches that were already forming, but not meant for non believers..... Paul makes it very clear that we should, "not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God". Strapping them down with a lot of "do nots"....


I really don't believe we need to point out non believer's sins to them. They are leading that lifestyle, following that sin because they are hurting and looking to fill a void. I absolutely believe that every human being deep down has that core belief that they are supposed to be something they are not. That there is a standard out there that they haven't lived up to. That they were designed to be 'good' but have fallen. I think it's a universal understanding that we all need a Savior.


If asked directly, should we give our viewpoints on moral issues? Absolutely. We should give the viewpoint of the Bible.... but more often than not people already know what we're against as christians.... we need to show them who is FOR them! The one and only Savior who loves them exactly as they are!!


Conclusion:

If morality isn't talked about... if we're afraid to speak about our sins & our brokenness... if we no longer talk about the standard He laid out.... there will be confusion & distortion and we won't even know what sin is anymore. We will think we're "ok "and we will strive to do things to convince us we are "good" and "okay".

If people don't know they are sinning....if there is no absolute right and wrong.... then they won't know they need a Savior!


This is what the devil is trying to do. This is what people who don't like our Savior are trying to do..... little by little make people believe that either a) they are not broken or b) that they can be fixed and satisfactorily filled with earthly things. Trying to convince others that being a "good person" is good enough. (The fact that there is a standard to go by to see if somebody is "good" or not is proof there is an underlying morality we are all aware of.) Convincing them that void can be filled with whatever earthly thing this person is trying to promote.... but it's not the Truth.

We are called to be the salt of the earth. The moral flavoring. Allowing the Spirit to transform us so we can be an example.... standing up for what is right with our voices & our lives, so that others will understand how far off we are from God and being 'right' with Him. So people can realize ALL have failed. The Bible tells us ALL are unrighteous.

What happens when salt gets watered down? It disintegrates... the water becomes salty but it's dilluted and not near as powerful.... and over time, the more and more water is added each generation... the farther away we are from recognizing our need for a Savior. Look at how watered down we are from the early church leaders......

God please help me be the salt you want me to be. Help me have a backbone. Help me realize that you allow us to see sin in others NOT to condemn, but to recognize it for what it is --- a symptom of our deep need for our Savior. I believe this Word of God to be Truth God. I believe everything it says. I am willing to be called rigid, elementary, foolish. I know that I can't be good or right on my own God and you are my Savior! Help me spread your love God.


Help me spread your message of HOPE through Jesus Christ & CHANGE through the Holy Spirit!!!!


Hope
Psalm 25:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 25:21, Psalm 31:24, Psalm 33:20, Psalm 39:7, Psalm 42:11, Psalm 62:5, Psalm 119:114, Isaiah 40:31, Romans 5:4, Romans 8:24,


Change

II Corinthians 3:18, Romans 12:2, Phillipians 3:21


Who's YOUR Savior!?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Wake Up Call

Struggle and trials will either crumble you or build you up depending on who/what you lean on. If you lean on the one and only Rock, you will become resilient.

Resiliency = the ability to find purpose & meaning in the midst of the storm

Struggles build muscle, like lifting weights. To build muscle, you need resistance! To build a spirtual & moral backbone, you need opposition!

Through opposition, we will acquire humility and learn to trust in God.

We have become complacent. We are too comfortable. Mother Teresa saw this a long time ago and for that reason called western christians some of the poorest people she had ever seen.

So dig deeper into The Word today. Get closer to God today. Let Him build your backbone and be prepared to defend your voice, the voice that so many want hushed!

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.… Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
Psalm 46:1,10-11 NLT

Praise God in the midst of whatever storm you're going through!


Praise God in struggle

3 Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.

4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.


Psalm 43:3-5




Commandments

For some reason, this is on my heart tonight:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments

(Matthew 22:37-40)

If we do these things, we will be honoring the 10 Commandments as well...

The 10 Commandments:

(1) “You shall have no other gods before me.” This command is against worshipping any god other than the one true God. All other gods are false gods.

(2) “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” This command is against making a idol, a visible representation of God. There is no image we can create that can accurately portray God. To make an idol represent God is to worship a false god.

(3) “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” This is a command against taking the name of the Lord in vain. We are not to treat God’s name lightly. We are to show reverence to God by only mentioning Him in respectful and honoring ways.

(4) “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” This is a command to set aside the Sabbath (Saturday, the last day of the week) as a day of rest dedicated to the Lord.

(5) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” This is a command to always treat our parents with honor and respect.

(6) “You shall not murder.” This is a command against the premeditated murder of another human being.

(7) “You shall not commit adultery.” This is a command against have sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse.

(8) “You shall not steal.” This is a command against taking anything that does not belong to us without the permission of the person to whom it belongs.

(9) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” This is a command against testifying against another person falsely. It is essentially a command against lying.

(10) “You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” This is a command against desiring anything that does not belong to you. Coveting can lead to breaking one of the commandments listed above: murder, adultery, and theft. If it is wrong to do something, it is wrong to desire to do that same something.

Taken from gotquestions.org

9 of these 10 commandments (all but the sabbath) were listed in the New Testament as well as the Old.

Number 10 is really the one piercing my heart tonight as I listen to people responding to the economic state we're in right now.... as I listen to people's reactions to the different promises slathered all over the media propaganda machine. Whoever gets elected is going to have a heck of a time fulfilling their promises.

My question is --- who will the politicians blame next when they can't give the people everything they want? Who is the next scapegoat for a machine based on coveting, hatred & division?

It appears we will soon find out.

God bless us,

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Galatians 1:4

...who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father...



God I recognize Jesus didn't come to create political peace.... in fact many in His time were not willing to recognize Him as the Messiah because they were expecting a political leader who would overthrow governments and change the world order we see.... which He did not (on the surface). He was a humble servant. A man crucified by His own people whose power is all but unseen in this world.... I know you did so much more than what we can see with our eyes.

I know that this world or any country or people will not become acceptable to you or righteous in any way except through Jesus. I recognize that America is as faulty as other countries and that this world will only get worse - spiritually and morally....

BUT GOD -- I feel SO thankful to be an American. I have felt so blessed to be have all the freedoms we do and I believe we have done more good in the world than any other nation because we have been ruled under you.... but that's changing... many are turning from you... they don't like how offensive your Truth is....

God I know that we, as the temples of Jesus on this earth have the capability through you to spread so much good in our homes, families, communities, governments.


and I want so badly to have a godly man in office. I have such a strong desire to want a political overthrow of the insiders who don't know you... I want your Truth to be the prevailing 'law' in our country....

but God no matter what --- help me recognize what you did when you came. and help me realize my calling... which does not change no matter who is in office. Help me continue to do good in my home, in my church and in my community because of who is in me. Help me continue to spread your Good News.

Maybe this is a wake-up call for we have become too comfortable.



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mentors

I have been praying for mentors for Brandon and I for quite a while. When Bekah posted on mentors not too long ago, it was such a shock like she was writing MY post. It seems a lot of us are at that point. It really is extremely hard to find people passionate and fully devoted to God isn't it? Or should I say... it really is hard to find people passionate about & fully devoted to God that a) have time for others b) are willing to open their real, outside of Sunday, every day lives with a young christian couple. We had an incredible mentor system with Britt World Wide... but when we left that business team, we missed that godly mentorship so much.

I have such a passion for the elderly and my parents really instilled in me a respect for anybody that is an elder. and I really believe in the power of mentors. of having an example to look up to. accountability partners. Somebody who has gone ahead and been through life's lessons already that can pass on their wisdom, experience and just encouragement. BWW taught us that. I don't think the church stresses mentoring enough. Yeah we have a preacher, who often is very out of reach to us. We have small groups which are great and what life is all about - journeying together... but often small groups are people in the same socioeconomic/demographic/whatever group and we're at the same place in the journey. The Bible calls us to have mentors. I don't know the verses right now, but I know it commands us younger women to learn from the older and for the older to teach and give of their lives & hearts as well. Right?

Why don't churches stress intergenerational relationships more? Because we are so focused on reaching the youth we forget about the elderly? ouch.

Why don't we stress the need for mentors? That's how Jesus worked didn't He? In people's hearts & homes. Starting with 12 men and focusing intimately with 3 (?). It's all about real, intimate, personal, one on one relationships with others right? Yes he did teach to crowds as well and in synagogues but He did always make sure to pull his disciples aside and have personal and close interaction with them. I really believe so many have missed that part. Churches are known for their teaching/preaching to groups... but not so much about intimate close authentic relationships. Letting people into our lives outside of Sunday mornings. The Body needs to cling together tighter! Yes we create little islands, but we create island of strangers many times!! Our communities although are islands from the greater community (which isn't a good thing either) are not near as authentic, strong and healthy as they could be.... but I do see that changing, thank God!

The fact that churches don't stress intergenerational contact/relationship/mentoring is a perfect example of how messed up our priorities are. We value popular young preachers over the elderly couple in the pew behind us. We value missionaries over stay at home moms. We value famous worship leaders over the little old lady who helped form & build our church body ___ years ago. God calls us to a different standard of valuing each other. For more on this, see this post.

Our mobility as a people has increased so much that people aren't around their extended families anymore. We aren't staying in the same town we grew up in, going to the same church for __ years. I really believe this leaves a huge hole in our lives. Our city is a perfect example of this. Wilmington is such a transition city. With the colleges, the beach, the retirement folk... there are so many people who have left their families to be here.

When I moved away from my parents & grandma, I really felt that hole that grandma & mom & dad filled. I knew that I couldn't find anybody to replace that hole fully..... but I knew I had to find SOMEBODY to sort of step in that place. I was getting real discouraged. I felt like I had been reaching out to couples so many times at church and even outside of our church body - but somehow I wasn't being clear enough and nobody realized I was asking (begging?) somebody to invite me into their lives & hearts. I felt ignored and that I was a nuisance because so many of the older folk did have families around and just 'stuff' going on. Imagine that! The older folk were busier than we were! :) So I just started praying for God to bring them to me - instead of trying to force myself into other's lives.

And... God answered! It took quite a while - probably time to prepare us and to prepare them, but we have met 2 couples in the past few months that are older and have been having the same things laid on their heart. AND also Brandon re-started going to Mentoring Men for the Master and is that a direct anwwer to prayer or what!?!? We were able to go out to eat with Dr Bennett 2 nights ago and more than once I just started crying - I don't know why I cry so much haha.... but mostly just out of joy because I felt God telling me that night, "see Randi. you just have to be patient. I know what I'm doing. Why do you worry so much? Why do you get so frustrated?" ... silly randi :)

Anyway - we are SOO excited for these couples we met and for MMM. I really was so touched by Dr. Bennett and just wanted to keep bear-hugging him which I did at least once. God is so good!

I am going to be working with one of the ladies and trying to help pull together even more couples. I'll get asking among my peers who is looking and she'll be asking among hers and we'll "hook them up". :) God is sooo good!

Thank you God for what you're doing. I can really feel you at work. I know you have a plan. I know that you're going to use us. I am so thankful for all you are pouring into us. Continue to use us God we're so willing!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oaks of Righteousness

I received the below email (in italics below) from Crosswalk.com and loved it.

I might just be a 'little acorn' right now.... but I know that God is at work. I know He will continue to use me. I used to have so much stress/anxiety about being used, doing as much as He wanted me to..... but I have continued to ask for patience and faith. Be careful what you ask for, right? I know the best way He teaches us to have patience & faith is by making us wait on Him.. a lot... and I believe He's doing that :)

When I focus on how others are being used and focus on my own 'results', I get discouraged, I get off track. And God gently pulls me back and tells me to get re-focused. That my eyes and heart are on Him and Him alone. That His plan & timing are perfect and as long as I'm with Him and abiding in Him, He will take me where He wants to, and do with me what He wants... my job is just to cling to Him. I am so thankful He is helping me make Him my idol and not anything else...

I know that I am burrowing down, growing good strong roots in the wee hours when nobody is looking.... and I know I'm tapped into the source of nourishment and strength.... and I pray to be a big strong oak some day! :)

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

FROM THE FATHER'S HEART
My child, do you sometimes feel like a tiny acorn surrounded by huge oak trees? I hear your sighs. I know how badly you want to grow, yet there are times you may see no progress at all. Trust Me. I am the planter. It takes years to grow a sturdy oak. Don't be impatient. Just because you can't see the branches doesn't mean My power is not at work in you. Your labor is not in vain. In time, you, too, will become an oak that offers shade and blessing to many.


A GRATEFUL RESPONSE
At times I've wished to be a strong, sturdy oak, or maybe a pine whose green branches grace the forest all year. Yet sometimes I feel like I'll always be a twig. You decide what I'll be, according to Your divine plan. I'll bloom, Lord, wherever I'm planted.

SIMPLE TRUTH
He is the planter; we are the seed. Stay plugged into Him. Let Him do the work.







I LOVE oak trees. a lot. :) This is the house down the road from us that Brandon and I want to buy.... what attracted me to it was that live oak tree.... but it's not a priority whatsoever and as everything else - we can do without it! We'll just wait and see what is in God's plan.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Universal 'ethics', Rome, Jesus

I wrote a huge long dissertation on politics a few weeks ago and I believe enough was said there for at least 4 years... BUT Melanie linked to a post from a new blog friend here and I just had to add to it.

She did a great job of stating her views and Obama's desire for universal ethics or "values".

I am just a bit bewildered that more people don't recognize his ideology for what it is.

Do we want 'change' soo bad that we will sacrifice Truth for it?

I'll preface this by saying that I don't think Obama is 'evil' or to be feared.... I just think he has had a lot of wrong ideology poured into him for a long time... an ideology I don't agree with. I believe he is trying to do good and unify people --- he's doing what's good based on the morality he believes in.... but I just disagree with him completely. Ultimately morality is what it is and can't be changed dependent on the people and their lifestyles. As a christian, I believe there is only One successful unifier, the one and only God our Christ who put all people on the same playing field.

Jesus' ministry was very much all inclusive.....He came to save everybody and His invitation was open to all.... but while He was here - He did teach about ethics. He very much uplifted God and His rule. He sure was an advocate for the One and Only God. He clearly believed in absolute morality that God created and didn't believe in morality created by any religious leader or political movement. Jesus knew we couldn't live up to God's standards. He knew that our failures could always be forgiven, which is why He did what He did for us... but very clearly our Jesus did not believe in basing our ethical (or moral) 'code' on whatever the majority 'felt'. There was (is) an underlying right and wrong. He called us to strive for righteousness and discerning out this right & wrong through the working of the Spirit. Doesn't Jesus make it clear that relative morality is not good?

What starts off as something that seems a way to unify a very diverse people --- turns into an anything-goes mindset. Ask Rome. Rome's strength (in it's mind) was the ability to 'tolerate' every practice and embrace every new idea in the name of freedom. But what was once it's strength became it's destruction.

Freedom without restraint little by little tears away at a people. Freedom without restraint eventually means anything goes without consequence. Freedom without our legislation being under God will turn our already individualistic society into a self-serving, pleasure-seeking, happiness-above-all mess.

As christians, we should want people in 'office' who have the same ideology as us.

Our people have turned away from God because Truth hurts. We couldn't get away with what we do if there is a God --- so we just pretend He doesn't exist and we make our own gods. They don't know The Savior and His power.

Our people have turned away from God so they are asking the government to take over where His Body was supposed to in taking care of those around us.

Our people have turned away from God - therefore there is no clear right and wrong so a new ethical code needs to be put in place and that code is based on relative morality. What is moral is what is 'best' for the majority.

With this relative morality --- Hitler eventually convinced thousands (millions?) it would be 'right' to obliterate an entire race that caused 'his people' injustice. My point is that eventually anything can be justified with relative morality. Very simply, the tolerance of evil & relative morality will bring destruction and turmoil upon any nation willing to allow it into its schools, governments and homes.

I just pray that everybody knows what a vote for Obama stands for. It's not about his policies at all really -- it's about the ideology he'll bring to the White House. Check out his speeches, radio excerpts, transcripts (that were not 'lost') from 2001 and on. Check out the ideology you're voting into office.

Please God help us turn back to you. We have been headed toward this path for a long time. Isn't there a majority in this country that still loves you God?! That wants to know The Truth you created? That understands that Jesus came so we could get to know you. For those that have accepted Jesus... God please help them continue to seek you out and allow the Holy Spirit to transform them. Help us all God want to get to know you more.... not just you in the form of Jesus in the New Testament... but all that you are and stand for. Help us desire to strive to be perfect moral agents as Jesus was... though we will always fail. Let us look to follow Jesus and do whatever we can to become more Christlike. His life and His teachings were the perfect example of your absolute morality. Please God help us learn from the mistakes of the past. I do believe God in morality that you laid down. I believe that you are the designer of right & wrong. I do believe God that there is an authority (you) above any government, any dictator and any political group of bureacrats. Your authority and morality is above all God.

If God, there comes a time soon that I will be persecuted for this 'traditional' and 'rigid' ideology --- help me stand firm in place during persecution as the Christians did in the Roman streets & arenas.

because the truth is...that the majority say they want tolerance of all ideals... but really they want to be tolerant of all ideas except those which point out their brokenness, failures and need for you.

Your morality does point out our sin and it's painful. What the people don't realize is that it's okay because the Savior came and has rescued us from our brokenness. He didn't lower morality to our level... He didn't change right & wrong... He raised us up and made it possible for us to be transformed. There is freedom after that pain of our failures for those that accept Him.

but until we see and feel our pain.... until we are heartbroken over our brokenness and need for you... we won't accept our need for a Savior. Until we recognize our need for a Savior, we won't accept Him, won't accept the One and Only God. Without accepting The Savior, we won't be free and will be slaves to whatever god ("happiness", pleasure, lust, wealth) we have created. As we avoid the pain of the Truth and cling to other gods.... we may temporarily feel 'good' but in the end we will have eternal emptiness.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life, Light, Death

*** October 12th, 2008 A new sister in Christ was born.
*** October 16th, 2008 A new niece was born into the world. My only blood sister's only little girl (she has 2 boys)
*** October 19th, 2008 A brother in Christ passed on

There was joy in all of these events!!

God seems to be laying on my heart these past days how real life & death are.... spiritual life & death moreso than physical.

He has been doing something beautifully chaotic and free-ing in me this past year. The external changes & actions that those around me are seeing are just an overflow of what He has poured into me for a long time. I am blessed to be eternally-focused. I feel like I've always been a spiritual person... being very aware of things beyond the flesh/physical.... but intentionally and faithfully seeking Him out has changed everything. I care so much to please Him, I care so much for others to love Him and to know the love He has for them. I care so much to introduce people to Him and I am going to continue to. I will step in that gap and allow God to use me however He wants to, to 'build a bridge' as Pastor Kelly talks about... to give people the choice to walk over or not. I have made the decision to naively (faithfully) believe that God will use me and use whatever small decisions I take toward Him and toward others in big ways.

There is death & suffering going on all around us.... it seems moreso than ever that there is sickness. With all that's wrong in the world, people are looking more than ever for comfort, for Truth, for love, for a refuge. I truly deep down in my core believe that God is the one and only refuge from this world. I really believe that people are looking for the light, THE Light that only He can bring. Do you believe that He is the One that is the answer to what people are looking for? I do.

And because I have that light in me.... I would be selfish to not offer people what I believe they seek. I wasn't ready to do that for a long time though... I needed to get to know that Light myself. I needed to figure out who I was. I needed to lean on Him, not my own efforts. Because it's not our own efforts. It's not forcing conversations.... It's all about Him and Him working through you. It's not about in-your-face preaching.... it's not about condemning other's beleifs... it's not about arguments or debates..... it's about invitations. It's about inviting others to journey with us. It's about inviting others to seek the Truth along with us. It's about planting 'small' word seeds. It's about allowing Christ to work through us to offer hope, faith, help, encouragement, love in many forms.. to those that cross our paths.

It starts out with simply spending time with Him and getting to know Him so you can know yourself. Our life ministries start out in the quiet hours in our homes where we allow Him to fill us up.... and then when the overflow happens, it's time to reach out and engage in other's lives! Doesn't it feel like the Body has gotten away from this? That we have become passive, the live & let live type thinking.... but Jesus wasn't like that. He wasn't passive, unlike every other philosopher in His day... He was active. He was all about engaging people.

I want people to know that there will always be suffering & sickness, but there doesn't have to be death!

On Thursday morning this week, I woke up and starting reading my Bible. I was in Mark chapter 5.... where Jesus raised the little girl from death. I don't want to talk about physical healing in this post at all or raising from the dead... because I want to focus on our spiritual health, which I believe God cares a LOT more about.... but in this chapter what spoke to me was how Jesus referred to death. He referred to it as sleep. That really is what death is to us believers... a slumber. It's no more serious than slumber because we will all be together in Christ when He comes back.

Right after I read this chapter, I checked my email and received an email that Fred had passed on and that the service was to be that day. God's presence covered me as I reflected back on that passage I had JUST read.... I love how He does that. Almost every single day, He uses my readings in the morning in a very real, personal intimate way.

I learned two very important lessons that day....

a) the reminder that there is no real death for those who believe in Christ. Christ conquered even death for us. In Fred's passing there was such a peace around the entire room, knowing that we all would see him again. We all will have physical death --- but those who have accepted the gift of Christ, will live eternally in heaven with God

I get SO excited thinking of our dear new sister that will have eternal life because she accepted Jesus.

During the service in honor of Fred, there was a great reminder to me... that we are spiritual beings, experiencing this world for but a brief time... and there is so much to rejoice about for those that have Christ in us! There is SO much more to be joyful about than frustrated. So much more to have peace about than turmoil. Thank you God so much!!!!

b) The 2nd lesson was how important my daily time with God was. Spending time in the Word daily is so important. Not to be legalistic about it, not to create a ritual out of it... but to continually walk toward God in whatever small step that is, so that He will help us understand the true importance of His words. Help us value The Truth. Help us crave Him. God doesn't want to us to feel guilt when we miss times in the Word.... He doesn't want us to get discouraged... He wants us to move forward and make the decision to not be victims of circumstance... but to take control of our daily actions and just take small steps daily in faith knowing that He will give us the discipline and the faith to move toward Him!!

Just as we wouldn't expect new baby Irelyn (my niece!) to arrive into this world reading books, walking & talking ... God wouldn't expect us new believers to run right away... but to instead take baby steps & crawls toward Him. I pray people would recognize how the little steps do make all the difference. That this life is a journey, a process that takes a lifetime. It's all about holding on, clinging to Him, walking toward Him .... while others are letting go.

I truly believe God that you are the one and only Light people are seeking. I believe you are THE answer. Thank you so much for the freedom we have to speak this Truth to people around us in this country. Please God don't let them take away that freedom --- and don't let us take it for granted! Thank you God so much for the assurance that we will have eternal life with you. Thank you for my new niece, my new sister and my brother that made a difference in my life.

photo by MomMom



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wake up sleeping giant!

What would it be like if The Body, the church, fully woke up!? In general, we have been a sleeping giant too long!!! but what if the sleeping giant woke up!?

I get SO pumped up thinking about this!! because it's happening! There IS a stirring going on.... change happens from the bottom up not from the top down (no matter what politicians say)... change happens when those on a grassroots level start making their faith ACTIVE.

I'm ready to be active! I am so ready to really BE the change I want to see.

I'm going to continue to 'step out' and make my faith more active. I am going to live for Him and center my life on that goal! He has been pouring into me, He has taken the time to prepare me and the overflow is happening.

We are ALL at different stages and how our faith is 'active' will be different for each...but I just pray that we start moving! Just a little bit each day! Whether it be setting aside time for God, sharing with friends & families what God is doing in your life, helping those around you with words of faith & encouragement, or giving to those in need. Be active & intentional in your faith today all the while telling Him you're doing it for Him!
  • People are looking for the government to help them monetarily, because the church has failed.
  • People are considering cults, satanic movements, false religions to find some truth, because the church isn't teaching, sharing and speaking about the one lasting Truth, the Word of God.
  • People are looking for the schools to teach ideology & doctrines instead of reading writing and rithmetic... because parents & churches are not
  • People are looking for clubs, groups, social orgs to be a family with.... because we're not reaching, inviting, asking others to journey with us. Not being the family we were meant to be.
There is hope! a CHANGE is coming! There have been a lot in the church who have been active but it's time for us younger generation to follow and allow Jesus to work in us and through us!

Let's take advantage of the freedom of religion we have in this country before it disappears!! We have the freedom to talk about, discuss and teach from The Bible no matter what the media or others say. We DO have that freedom anywhere we are!

We have the freedom to worship our God and praise His name in any form we choose. Let's do it before those freedoms are taken away as they are in the majority of cities across this world. (http://www.persecution.com/)

It just takes a small group making 'small' decisions daily to turn toward Him to change an entire body.... oh what God can do with a small mustard seed of people that actually believe He can use them to make a difference! I truly believe it takes a small few to be active in their faith to cause big change to happen!

Open your Bible, talk to God, talk to a friend about Him, listen to a friend's hurt, concern and pain and direct him to the One who loves him and has a plan for him, praise God in song, art, something .... make at least one small decision today to be active in your faith that you didn't do yesterday!

The devil has tricked us to believe one person can't make a difference.... tricked us to believe that small decisions can't make huge differences.... tricked us with our busy-ness & distractions to not focus on God throughout our day. Don't let him fool you! Have faith that small decisions DO make a difference. Have faith God can use you exactly as you are, where you are.

There's a shift happening.... keep waking up snoozing giant before we are caught sleeping as our Jesus is betrayed and put in shackles!!!!! (Mark 14:32-41)


Update 10:35 am... Raymond and I just got back from running errands and look at what Pastor Steve Furtick posted on his blog just now.... http://www.stevenfurtick.com/ ... it's the same message God has been laying on my heart! I love how God always reinforces His teaching through other venues to sort of affirm the lesson - through blogs, books, radio, people, sermons, etc...

He is SO good! Change IS coming -- but not in a politician or political group! from God through The Body!! :) through people naive enough to believe He can use anybody, anything little by little to affect the world! :)


Monday, October 20, 2008

Foundations Class - Intro

We started a small group study yesterday entitled, "Foundations" which we are all totally fired up about. God lead 2 couples to Southside these past 2 weeks that Brandon & I met just living life. We are so so pumped for these new couples that took steps of faith to say yes to an invitation to journey with us (actually one called a week after I invited and asked if the invitation was still open!!) and then took another step of faith to say yes to try out this small group. I could go on and on about these couples but I will save their stories for them to share :)

People are looking and we're gonna keep reaching out to them. Engaging in their lives, loving on them and doing whatever we can to show them that God loves them and has a plan for them! Brandon and I have found our specific purpose and we are totally fired up about it. We are passionate and just amazed at all God is doing!

God is so awesome - it was just such perfect timing to meet these couples. Yesterday was the first week of this new class/study and it was their first week coming! How cool!! :) God is at work in this community so so much. Looking back it seems that our relationship with each couple, was just based on interactions that were just tiny little threads that could have easily not existed or been broken --- but we know that that thread was no thread at all - because it was God's plan. I sure am thankful that we listened when God said - reach out.

I was in the nursey so I missed the class - but I just read what they went over and I loved it. I am really really really excited for what God will do through this study.

The most important things that spoke to me were:
  • Knowledge must be balanced with discernment. (check out Phillipians 1:9-10)
  • Knowledge must be balanced with grace (see 2 Peter 3:18)
  • Knowledge must be balanced with love. (see I Corinthians 13:2 & I Corinthians 8:1)

and then warning signs:

  • warning signs of knowledge without discernment: knowledge remains theoretical; one person or group becomes a person's exclusive source of knowledge (like a certain author, certain friend, certain blog you always read.... I fall victim to this sometimes!.... the only source that is always the exclusive source of knowledge is the Word)
  • warning signs of knowledge without grace: learning more about God without growing closer to God; legalism
  • warning signs of knowledge without love: knowledge leads to intolerance of others; growth in knowledge leads to a growth in pride

I loved all of this teaching. Without knowing the exact words or thoughts -- this is what I have been praying in the past few weeks. I believe there needs to be a better balance in these areas in my life --- and everybody's life really.

There are so many who have love and tolerance.... but they have made love & tolerance their idol at the expense of Truth..... because they don't know the knowledge/doctrine. Love without True will also lead to darkness. and at the same time --- Truth without love leads to darkness as well.

God please continue to bless me in our quiet times and in my reading times. Fill me up with knowledge and fill me up with love. Help me have discernment and learn to listen to the Spirit as I listen to other's teachings.

let the Truth be heard God. Continue to build up your army. Help the church find a better balance of discipleship, evangelism & community. A better balance of knowledge, love & grace.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fort Caswell

Went to a marriage retreat @Fort Caswell today and last night. The lessons were important and godly lessons on marriage and they were worth hearing for the ___th time...

but the thing we loved most was just being together and being around some of our brothers & sisters in Christ. We always love being around PK (pastor Kelly) and his wife Audrey.... but we also very much loved hearing from each other when others had chances to speak as well. We loved meeting new couples and getting to know them - and growing relationships that had already been established. Those were my favorite parts - just being with Brandon and the people there.

I'll write more later on some specific lessons we did take away and our 'action plan' for including them in our life from now on..... but for now it's time for BED. We are both so ready to crash.

Thank you Jesus for what you did for us, for all you gave up, so that we could love. So that we could have an example (although it's an unattainable goal for us here on earth) of how to live. You are the perfect example of how we should live our lives - in our marriages & relationships with others. I want my life to be full of extravagent and radical love for others. What an awesome journey this is - learning to be more christ-like every day!

amazing love, undeserved love, extravagent love, merciful love, humble love, life-changing love

view from on top of one of the forts

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ramblings about the moon

Each night when I see the moon, I think of my MomMom & I think of God. It was such a hard decision for me to move away from MomMom. We are extremely close. Those first months away I remember looking at the moon every night and singing the 'fievel song'.... ya know, "somewhere out there.....".... She'd call me and say, are you looking at the moon!? I am! Somehow it was comforting to know that no matter the distance between us, we had the same moon to peer at and enjoy. I still find myself singing that song many nights.

I realized what the underlying lesson was. We knew that we couldn't see each other --- but there was one that could see both of us. The moon was representative to us of our unifier and the One we trusted was watching over each of us and connecting us.

Trying to picture things from the moon's perspetive is so cool. The moon can see so many people that we will never see. And God's greatness is soo way bigger than the greatness of the moon He created!! He really CAN see all of us and not only can He see us - He is intimately and personally and actively involved in our lives - all across the world! Wow

There are not too many things that unite ALL of us on earth --- but the moon & The Creator are 2 of them. The same moon that Jesus looked at while on earth is the same moon I look at now. Wow.

Often times when I look at the moon I think - God who else is looking at the moon right now? Where do they live? What struggle are they going through (we are all going through some struggle at all times)? and sometimes I just pray for all the different people peering up at the sky. I pray that they would get to know Him, the One and Only God that created this world and cares deeply about us whom He designed & created.

what an awesome thing to know that God knows exactly who is looking at the moon at any given moment. He knows what they are struggling with, and what is on their heart.

Pretty mind boggling. The moon is a reminder to me just how huge God is. It's a reminder to me that all of us on earth are unified in Him.


Photo by MomMom

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Debate Response

I am an American. I am proud of what our country was founded on. I agree with the economic system we were created from. I believe in the American dream, with no cap on that dream.


I am a christian, so I believe that as we get more, we should give a lot more. I believe *we* are the best (and most effective & efficient) way to help those around us suffering... not bueracrats in Washington.


Is there a lot of risk with giving people freedom? yes.


Freedom for people to fail or succeed.
Freedom to make bad or good decisions.
Freedom to act immoral or moral.
Freedom to become obsessed and greedy with the blessings available.


Though we make mistakes and make immoral decisions... does that make the freedom itself bad? Does that make a system based on freedom bad? Does it make the blessings themself bad?


No... it just points out our sinful human nature and our desire for idols (money) when we remove God from our # 1 priority. It shows how desperately we need to keep God and the morality He laid out, in our country and our homes throughout America!


The problem is not in our system. Money isn't evil. Freedom shouldn't be taken away.

The problem is that we as a majority are turning our backs on God and the right & wrong He has created.




photo by MomMom