Monday, June 30, 2008
I know I talk about them and my grandparents a lot - but I am just so extremely blessed with them. As each year passes, they seem to get more and more important to me. It's harder and harder to live farther away from them. I feel so appreciative and un-deserving of them. I want to be with them more! I want Raymond to be with them more!
I had a great childhood full of love, joy, adventures, security and excitement. My first impressions of God were formed through my parents and grandparents. My mom's unconditional love, acceptance and non-stop servititude.... and the security I felt in my daddy's love... His decisions to do what was right - even if *I* didn't feel they were right. He did what was right for me and in the long term I see that. He wasn't always concerned about how I 'felt' or if I agreed with him, or liked the decisions.... he was more concerned about setting the right example, doing what was morally right, and my long term health and success. Combined, my parents were a great foundation for me to start my relationship with God.
I know not everybody has such blessed experiences with their parents ---- and it shouldn't be discouraging if your parents were not that foundation. God stands and knocks at our souls and plants seeds in us through so many differnet people and ways. Whether it's your parents or not --- I hope we all thank God for whoever was willing to be used to plant good seeds in us.
Who are you planting seeds in? or I should say.... for whom are you allowing God to work through you for? Are you helping people get one step closer to realizing just how much they are loved? Only your immediate family? Maybe another way to say it is, who do you show christ-like love to? Your children? Your enemies? Your neighbors? People you have hurt in the past? People who have hurt you? Your church family?
In a generation and world full of absent and worldly parents --- we need more planters. We need to be planters to more than just our immediate family. Who around you needs some seeds of approval? love? encouragement? acceptance? grace? forgiveness? hope? I pray that all of us get to know God more and more intimately every day and just allow Him to fill us up so we can go plant seeds in others. The best thing we can do for this world is to get closer to God. I pray that God helps me understand His love for me more and more. I have found that the more I understand and comprehend and try to fathom His love for me --- my love to others becomes more and more radical. He increases my capacity to love so much!
We must allow Him to do His work through us. He is building up His army and He needs workers. It's not about 'doing' more, finding more hobbies, sending out more gifts, visiting more friends, signing up for more ministries, becoming a missionary..... it's about abiding in Him and allowing Him to fill you up so that you can be a planter. All the things I listed MIGHT be what He calls you to do --- but the abiding comes first.
Loving on others doesn't originate in ourselves and in some sort of habit or action --- true and lasting love that changes people comes from an overflow of our hearts that is a result of spending time with God, listening, being still and letting Him lavish us with a love that is always overly abundant!
That's all my thoughts for tonight. I love you all!!! :)
Monday, June 23, 2008
I pray that these families run toward the pain. Yes run toward it! I pray that all of us will take the risk of ruining our reputations (see previous post for more on this) , will take the (perceived) risk of getting rejected (which God will absolutely never do), and take the risk of experiencing lots of pain and having things get worse before they get better.
We have to run toward the pain because if we hold back our sin, if we try to cover up our blemishes in anyway, we are not allowing full healing. The only way to true and absolute healing is to allow God to put us and our loved ones face to face with our sin. He would never allow our sin to beat us down beyond repair. Yes there WILL be pain when I have to confront my sin - there's pain, there's guilt, there's shame, but I know that the Spirit allows me that pain and shame only so that I will never want to do that sin again. The pain and guilt never last. God allows them for a short time and then washes them all away. That is what healing is all about -- admitting the scar, coming face to face, letting God bring to the surface ALL the stuff you don't want out in the open....being totally vulnerable and uncomfortable and then letting God totally heal it - not like a bandaid over a broken leg heal -- but a totally better than new, healing! that IS available to us!
If you only allow a little bit of pain and leave some areas covered up --- you will only get a little bit of healing. It's only when you allow full air to the wound and feel almost excruciating pain temporarily that the healing will come.
Like I said in my last post --- I am learning that to get closer to being Christlike, means you get farther away from being worldly. I can't focus on worldly things. My prayer shouldn't be that people understand me anymore - my prayer should be that I look good to God. I don't want to impress any crowd anymore - I just want God to delight in me. Psalm 19:10 King David prays to God, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, My Redeemer". Let us pray like him!! Let us be more concerned with what God thinks of us, our thoughts our motives, our actions than what the world does. God does not give a hoot at all about what the world thinks of us. Let's not cover ourselves up --- but take the risk of being the one to step away from the crowd, show our failures and how God gives us 100% healing from them.
As a final thought --- I was reading Genesis this morning about the first sin ever committed --- and I was thinking about the blame game. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent.... let us not blame our actions on others. God knows what happened. God can not forgive excuses --- God can only forgive a repentant heart. On KLove this morning --- I was so excited when I heard a mini-sermon on exactly what I had just read. The pastor said.... let's not come to God saying I missd up a bit, I slipped, I made a teeny mistake ---- let us be like King David coming and exclaiming I have sinned against you! No matter the sin --- take the risk of being obedient and realizing sin is sin and we need forgiveness no matter what it is. Be humble, completely open, vulnerable and truthful. He will never forsake you, He is always trustworthy.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Love you all!
I really love that last stage - The Life of Love. It's all about God. Living in obedience to God, wisdom gained from life's struggles, compassionate living for others, detachment from things and stress, life abandoned. What an awesome description. Something to continually strive for.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
When you start to outpour this type of love...you will know that is Jesus' love shining and no longer your own.
An empty stable stays clean - but there's no blessings in any empty stable.
[An empty heart stays unhurt - but there's no blessings in an empty heart]
[An empty house stays clean - but there's no blessings in an empty home]
If the American church - every person who considered themselves a Christian - tithed on their income, we would have enough money to eradicate all the poverty in America. After that there would be a ridiculous surplus to start meeting the needs of the rest of the world. When you see that, you just beg God to wake us up. Let the Church rise to her ultimate purpose, which I believe, is righting the wrongs on the earth. We blame the government; we say, "How come you guys haven't done what you were supposed to have done?" And I'm surprised that the government hasn't looked back at the Church and said, "Why haven't you done what you were called to do in Scripture
-- Israel Houghton from A Conversation with Israel -- The Worshipper Magazine
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
When was the last time you laid down on the floor, head to the carpet in fetal position thanking and praising God in silence for rescuing you? Not that you have to be in that exact position - but that is always where I end up! I am ecstatic for being rescued! I know that I have been blessed with the most emotional of all personality types but I just feel overwhelmed with joy sometimes at what He has done for me and continues to do! I have always been an optimistic and 'happy', positive person but those are external personality traits. I was missing joy, I was missing fulfillment, behind those smiles and laughter, I wasn't okay with me.
To tell a little bit more about what He has been teaching recently and to share more of my journey, I'd like to do a "then and now" post. Much of this will probably be thoughts on 'the church' because that's been on my heart a lot recently...but anyway, here we go.
Randi's then and now:
Then: I have always felt like an outsider at church. I feel like I've always been spiritually "in" with God and feel like I've always had a relationship with Him, but I didn't "fit in" at church. To get involved, the church always tried to convince me to join the drama or choir - but I never felt(and still don't!) any nudge to either sing or act haha. Besides SOMEBODY has to be sitting in the pews. I never liked how people judged my relationship with Christ based on how involved I was at church...and I still don't like it.
Now: I KNOW I'm an insider because of Christ - even if I feel like an outsider in a church! Instead of getting upset because people in general don't have good people skills and make othesr feel like outsiders, I just have to get over that. The majority of people only want to talk about "me" "I" "what God is teaching ME" instead of asking about others and being a good listener and that's just the way it is. I just have to have some grace and realize that I am the most imperfect person I know so I can't condemn others. I know that it's not my job to grumble about it and instead it is my job to be the example. It IS my job to BE the change I want to see in the church. I have to continue to work on my spiritual growth and my relationship with Christ not caring what others think about my relationship with Him. And eventually I know that He will help me find my specific role to help serve the church - but my guess is it won't be in the drama or choir :) we'll see.
Then: During my valleys aka slumps aka stalls --- I would start to blame my situation on others - family, church, pastor, whatever... I would have a pathetic victim mentality - griping about my circle of influence, my situation, bla bla bla
Now: I know that *I* am responsible for my spiritual growth. *I* am responsible for my relationship with Christ. I should turn to my loved ones when needed in the valley to get encouragement but my spiritual growth is up to me.
And there's something I want to add in here but I'm not sure where to put it so I'm just going to throw it in........God spoke to me last night this saying..... "The church is not what connects you to God....God is what connects you to the church" ........ I don't get to God through the church.... I am part of the church because of my connection to God. He is central, not the church. Also, the church isn't just a spiritual growth incubator - it's not like a college for christians - it's one aspect of our spiritual journey. I still need to figure out exactly what the purpose of the church is and look up more scripture on this -- but I just have this feeling that the way we see 'church' now isn't what it was meant to be like.
Then: During my childhood I always believed in God and I remember always being extremely faithful.... but I didn't grow closer to Him - my relationship just stayed the same. When I look back at writings from that time - I see that I loved God, I had so much faith and optimism for my life and always believed that He was there protecting me.... but I didn't pursue Him. I just kept the focus on me and what He was doing for me and learned about Him a little bit through books which were always my best friends...and youth retreats I went to.
Now: I do whatever I can to keep the focus on Him and off of me. I make sure to pursue Him daily. One of the most frequent requests I have of Him is to check my motives, to make sure to keep my humble.... I do not want to ever be prideful or self focused again. I don't want to start taking credit for my spiritual growth, because yes it's my responsibility - but the only reason it happens is because God blesses me with transformation because I am connected to Him, He flows through me. I don't want it to be about me at all.
Then: I used to base my relationship with God on emotions and feelings. I am an extremely emotional person. My personality type (sanguine melancholy) is the most emotional of the bunch. I'm just really in tune with my emotions. So in my immaturity, I based God's love for me on how I felt - the experiences I encountered with Him.
Now: I allow Him to help me use my emotions to honor Him but never let them control me. I no longer base the strength of my relationship with Him on how I feel. I am learning to be spirit-lead and not emotion-lead.
Then: Along the same line, I always used to interpret God through my situations. (have to give Pastor Pete props again here and give him credit for these words - through his sermons he helps put into words what I have been learning) In the beginning it was immature like this: if I was being blessed - He loved me; when I was struggling - I was being punished, I would think oh now He is so disappionted in me that He will never love me as much as He did before I messed up. Then years later a little bit along in my maturity it turned into something like when I would mess up, I would think things like oh God has left me, He will come back when I change. He is that disgusted He doesn't want anything to do with me until I get over this sin.
Now: I realize that my life events in no way change the nature of God. He is what He is and I can't interpret Him solely through what He allows in my life (or what He doesn't allow). He is so much bigger than anything I can see or experience. He is doing so much more than I'll ever realize. He never gives up on me -- He is right there in my humiliation helping me get back up off the ground!!! He's always there!! When I sin the guilt of my sin pulls ME away from Him but HE is there!
I believe that at some points in my life, exactly when I needed it, He has pulled back a little bit --- but during those times, the Spirit reminds me He's there. Just because I can't feel Him doesn't mean He isn't there --- those times are when it's time to pursue. It gets me back on my toes.
My point is --- God is doign something much bigger than we see! We aren't just puppets that He sort of throws events at to see what happens -- He is orchestrating everything perfectly. I know now I can't interpret God through my circumstances. No matter what is going on - whatever my emotions, whatever my situation - I have to trust that He is at work and He has a plan for me and that even when it doesn't seem like it - His hand is controlling my life.
Then: I used to use anything to fill up my days so I wouldn't have to come face to face with my nothingness (see pastor Peter's sermon, previous post for more on this)--- sex, alcohol, entertainment (eating out, movies, TV), food, purchasing, instant gratification in whatever area of my life, hobbies, success, popularity, physical transformation and addiction to hurry
Now: God has shown me my value. He has allowed me to come face to face with my ugliness only to say - it's gone! He only uncovers my eyes to my sin when He knows it won't break me down for good. I know there is a lot of sin in me He hasn't revealed yet that I'm not ready for--- but He is little by little helping me shed away all the distractions and ugliness in my life. He is showing me how to allow Him to fill me up so I don't have fill myself up with whatever else, and I don't have to be ashamed of my nothingness. what's awesome is that He has given me back those things which used to fill me and which (most of them) are not inherently bad - but now He has helped me enjoy them in His way on His timing and I enjoy them so much more!! They are purely just for fun now and to get closer to Him - not just "things" trying to fill the void, not just things I do to experience temporary happiness and then that wicked heart and soul ache hangover when they're done.
Then: He made very clear for me a vision for my life in May 2007 when grandma went to heaven. I HAD to know Him like she did. I had to be Christ-focused, I was willing to do whatever it took. But I didn't have any idea how to get to that vision - so I just used the universal success principles I had learned in other areas and decided that the first step was just to do SOMETHING and to do it for Him! So I asked Him what it was, what was the first step?....and He told me to start somewhere! Take a small step to pursue Him. So I started doing things that a person who was Christ-focused would do. So I did the sort of "fake it till you make it" thing. I started going through the motions. Getting up before everybody to have quiet time with Him....reading my Bible all the way through in a year.
Now: It's amazing how doing those actions brought me to Him. I found Him in that quiet time....or rather I was finally quiet and still enough to hear the Spirit and I realized He was there always!! He helped me realize He has always been here and it's my job to pursue Him. Now I want to be with Him so much that I don't have to go through any motions (although when I start to go through a valley - I do know it's time to increase my time with Him or my Bible reading) - I have learned to "just be" with Him throughout my day. To be ever-aware of His presence. To realize and to remind myself constantly that the curtain is torn!!! I have full access anytime anywhere to the God of this universe and I need to take advantage of that! He wants to be a part of my life! for more --- see my post from January http://randijosjourney.blogspot.com/2008/01/curtain.html
It's time for Raymond and Lennox and I to go for our walk and then head to the beach as usual haha so that's it for now. I hope you all have a great day. I hope you reflect on your then and now and tell God how thankful you are for all the changes you've seen!
Thank God for my blog friends for once again helping me get back on track. I am realizing more than ever that nobody is responsible for my spiritual growth but me. Church is not a social networking tool to acquire popularity --- it's about reaching out to people and all of us helping each other be fully devoted to Christ. Who cares that nobody cares about my story. Who cares that nobody asks about me. Who cares that sometimes I feel like an outsider. Who cares that no church is perfect - I am not perfect and it's never my job to condemn criticize or complain --- it's MY job to grow me and let God work on others! It's MY job to encourage and lift up others! It's MY job to be the change I want to see in the church/world.
Sometimes the most important way to be involved in church is to be the connection to the church for others. Notice that somebody who usually sits by you hasn't been around? find out their number, call them. You be the connection to the church for them! Let them know they are missed and important! It isn't the pastor or leadership's job to keep tabs on everybody - we have to cling on to each other! Listen to people - let them talk about themselves - let them tell their story! If somebody chooses to come to Christ or get baptized or join the church - be ECSTATIC!
So anyway - that's all for now -- Reminder to self: I am not connected to God through the church.... I am connected to the church through God/Christ. I am an insider.
And I just wanted to make it known again that I *KNOW* I have SOOO far to go and I am just at the beginning of my journey. I know I am still very infantile in my spiritual maturity in so many areas so please continue to challenge me when I say things or believe things that aren't in line with the Word. I have SO far to go - but MAN do I love this journey!! :)
Friday, June 6, 2008
I have many reasons for leaving to come home - ever since I got pregnant, I have wanted to stay home full time; but the major reason that we finally decided it was time is because I literally will have MORE money when I stay home. Right now I'm having to pay for gas driving back and forth to work and pay for the babysitter of course who makes almost close to what I make (yeah - babysitters don't want $5 an hour like I used to get not even 8 years ago) and Brandon keeps such long hours now - I am almost losing money because of gas prices. I know everybody is griping about gas prices, but I can't thank the Lord enough for them right now. It gives us financial justification (we already had all the other justifcation) for me to come home and it gives us an excuse to walk to the grocery store, bank, and CVS right down the road.
SOoo all that being said - I am so excited but I have to admit it's going to stretch me to stay home full time. Working or staying at home are both extremely difficult --- so I honestly can't say one is harder than the other; and I've done both so I know...BUT the difficulty is a different kind of difficulty so I'm going to be stretched to go back to those old challenges I had being a SAHM the first months. That is how I know I'm doing the right thing and that this role of mom and wife is what God is calling me to do - because I feel a bit uncomfortable about it. And from experience, I know that any time I feel uncomfortable - that is usually a good thing. It's the testing of my faith and perserverance - testing if I'm willing to do what it takes to excel or just stay mediocre. God is never concerned with our comfort at all - in fact I believe we'll feel a lot of uncomfort when we find our calling. Then when we "win" that battle and push through the uncomfortableness and our flesh protesting against the challenge - the credit and glory go to God.
I'm uncomfortable that there will be even more expected of me around the house and in Raymond's development. I'm uncomfortable that *I* will be solely responsible for Raymond's behavior, training and growth in all areas. There's no, "oh - well Brittany (babysitter) must have been letting him do that" etc. etc. I will have full credit or full blame for what Brandon comes home to. I'm uncomfortable that I will have to be the full organizer and director of the day from 7 am to 8 pm --- rather than 7 to 3pm and 7:45 to 8pm. I know that I make a difference at work and that the company values me and that my customers value me a lot....but I am not concerned with worldly value. I am thankful that God allowed me there to be able to plant good seeds into people's lives....but that part of my life is over.
I literally am in tears thinking of what a dream come true this is. Praise God. It doesn't even seem real yet. I am going to pour myself so much more into being a mom and wife - it's almost like I feel lke I'm becoming a mom all over again. It's like WOAH I'm a MOM!! It still bewilders me to this day. Thank you God for allowing this dream to come true and for telling us the time is finally right. I really am ready.
So to follow up on my last post about abiding in Him and getting my value from Him and not anything I DO during my days.... I want to say that I think most of us are way off base and are missing the mark (sinning) in this area of our lives - the church shows me over and over again how worldly they are in this area..... do you value certain people's lives over others? Do you value popular evangelists over stay at home moms? Do you value preachers over new members? Do you value the life of a missionary of a christian widow old and gray? Do you value adults over babies in the womb? or children over the elderly?
Do you believe that a person is *more* valuable to God depending on the role they were called for?
I don't. I believe the only value we have is because of who is in us. I believe we are only worth anything because of Him. I don't believe any role we have or anything we do could make us more valuable to God. For so long I have been writing posts and praying the general message, "God won't you use me? Aren't I important?" and He finally spoke back to me and said Randi your value does not come from what you do - your value comes from the one that created you. The fact that you were "created in His image".
We as sinful humans value people dependent on what they can offer or have offered. I truly believe God is on such a different level and standard. So many verses speak that God looks at the heart - in other words there's so much more going on than what we see. My husband works in nursing homes and you all know how much I have a passion for the elderly. Time and time again, I see the circle of life -- that the elderly and the stages they sometimes get to before going to heaven parallel the stages of our toddlers and infants - and we coddle and swoon over and nurture and love our babies and cast aside our elderly who need the same care. I assume it has a lot to do with our inner sinful selves knowing that our children will grow up and they will be something we will be proud of. There will be a result of our care..... while the elderly will simply get 'worse' and pass on. We are so results driven. We decide where we will spend our time and energy by what the outcome will be. We look at the difference "we" have made and the results "we" have done. God doesn't.
I was the queen of results. Of being success and result focused, driven by worldly purposes and my days were filled with things that made me feel good about me and that made me feel worth. And I knew I was headed down a wrong path - I remember crying one night in 2005 for God to change me. That I could tell I was trying to force things and force my plan and not His and I told Him I was ready to do what He wanted me to do.... soon after that, God started stripping away everything I valued my life by and I found out I was pregnant. Being such a driver and goal oriented personality, this is a battle I'll always have to watch out for - looking for significance in things or roles.... but deep down God has taught me that lesson in my core -that no matter what roles He calls me to - they are not what give me value. My value will not change in His eye.
I don't know what roles God will call me to, right now I'm "just" going to be a mom and wife....but I believe that God will call me to more roles in my future - now that He can trust that I won't get a big head and believe I am more valuable or anything special just because the world values that role more.
I do believe we are called to find and refine and use our spiritual gifts and talents God has blessed us with to further His kingdom. and I certainly believe that some people are more useful to Him than others. I absolutely believe He is searching for people who will allow themselves to be used. Who will stand up and tell Him I'm ready God - use me, stretch me, make me uncomfortable! I look forward to finding out what other roles God is going to use me in... not to increase my value... but because I am valuable and I know He loves me and I love Him and I want to help others know they have the same offering.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. It's okay if you don't agree -- challenge me. Love you all