Friday, March 27, 2009

Spirit & Temple

I am in such a beautiful season of life. I just feel so FULL! :) Full of the Truth God is showing me, His love and grace. For about a year now, He has just been stirring in me such a passion for the Body of Christ. For THE church - not any one local part of it - but THE church.... although I do love so much the part of the Body where He has planted me right now.

He is building in me such a desire to see unity in the Body that Jesus himself prayed for. To see us caring for each other as one Body. To see us connected as He desires us to be. I see now that this year has been preparation for what He wants to do through us (Brandon, me, Crosswinds) in our community. I feel such a stirring going on... a movement of the Spirit as Pastor Chris has said.

I have been dwelling on the Holy Spirit a lot. Back in 2007, Francis Chan did a series on the Holy Spirit and I have been re-listening to it. It is so powerful and fits in so nicely to what Pastor Chris has been feeding us with.

Romans chapters 6 - 8 are some of my favorite passages on the Spirit. Those chapters have SO much in them!! I feel that I can't even read just one sentence without being so full....but what's amazing to me is that I can read a passage one month and not get anything crazy out of it.... but then a few days or weeks later, I re-read it and the words come alive in my soul. They almost instanteously change me as I let them abide. It is beautiful!!!!!

So I could go on and on and on and on and everybody around me probably knows that. But I will just share one nugget that is so thick in my Spirit right now I feel like I could chew on it for days.

I am choosing this one because to truly BE the Body and THE church that God is making me love so much --- we have to figure out what it is. Can you "go to" church? Can you "do" church? Or are *we* the church? What is "church"? :) Funny questions probably haha...... BUT I came across this verse when studying the Spirit:

I Corinthians 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?

*re-read that about 20 times* :) woah. There is no more temple ("church building"). When Jesus was crucified and punished for ALL the sin in the world EVER..... the curtain that was between us as every day little humans and the "Holy Place" of God was TORN. There is no more Holy Place to go to.

The curtain was TORN! God is waiting for people to believe in Jesus, accept the gospel of repentance & grace & forgiveness & love .... and run into His arms! Never to be separated again. Then, as His followers, He puts His Spirit in us! The Spirit is not a power. He's a being. He's a being that comes in to us and lives in us. A being that will guide us and change us. We don't have to GO anywhere to BE with God. We don't have to "Go to temple (church)". We ARE the Church. WE ARE the temple.

I am not saying we shouldn't gather corporately. We ARE to gather corporately to bring glory to praise His name... to encourage each other... to be fed the be refueled to go BE The Body... (although gathering corporately can take many different forms and I don't think it should be *one* day a week)... but any one place or day is not where the temple is. It's not where He is. He is in us.

We carry the temple with us everywhere. Not one day a week. Not at any one place.

The Church isn't a building (thank God for that since ours isn't done yet for our first official gathering Sunday!).....

We *are* the temple.

Much more to come!!! :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Praise the Lord!

When peace, like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin, not in part but the whole
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

Praise God!!!! My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part but in WHOLE was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord!! Praise the Lord! Oh my soul!!!!

The power of the beautiful gospel! May we never leave the foot of the cross. God, my father, the ONE true God, the Creator of this UNIVERSE, my blessed savior, Jesus, Holy Spirit in me!! Let the earth shattering news of the gospel NEVER depart from my heart & head.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Pleases God - Part 9

What Pleases God - Intro Post
What Pleases God - Part 1
What Pleases God - Part 2
What Pleases God - Part 3
What Pleases God - Part 4
What Pleases God - Part 4 - B
What Pleases God - Part 5
What Pleases God - Part 6
What Pleases God - Part 7
What Pleases God - Part 8

I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.
Psalm 69:30-31

When we PRAISE God and GLORIFY Him with our Thanksgiving... it is pleasing to Him!!!!

What struck me about these verse was how they were totally centered on Him! It didn't say, "thank God when things are going good. Tell Him how 'good' you feel because of all He's doing. Tell him how wonderful it is that He's doing all these things for you"

NO it says to praise HIM.... to glorify HIM in our thanksgiving.

In the times of sunshine, the times of clouds, AND the times of outright storms.

In the midst of our storms let us be praising Him!! We don't have to thank Him for the storm. I am not mature enough to thank Him for the storm in the midst of the storm (though sometimes I thank Him after it has passed).... but something I *can* do is PRAISE Him throughout the whole thing. I can lift up His name and tell Him I understand He's so so much bigger than what I see. I can tell Him that I believe in His promise that He will never leave nor forsake me. I can glorify Him in my thanksgiving that He will use all things for the good (Romans 8:28).

May we never forget the core message of the Bible -- GOD!! It is all about Him! He is to be praised!! To be glorifed! To be exalted!! God is pleased when we get this. He is pleased when we show Him we get it!

what is incredible to me and a beautiful twist on this whole thing --- is that when I give up focusing on myself and focus on glorifying His name & praising Him....... my heart is filled too. That's how much He loves us. He will pour into us as we pour into Him.

but... when we are too wrapped up in ourselves, not focusing on Him --- there is no room for Him to come in!

We have to "give up our lives" to truly get life.

We are to focus on Him. Pour out to Him. Desire to glorify Him.

God help me continue to get over myself... so there will be room for you to come in and fill me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Edification as Worship

I just had to post this link to what I thought was an incredible & often untalked about topic. Click here:

Edification as Worship

I found myself saying amen amen amen! It's so true.

You can't have one of the greatest 2 commandments without the other! Love God AND love each other!

There are many forms of edification I guess..... but because I'm a words person I focused on the words pieces in that post. I love that I am worshipping God when I encourage & love on others. When we relate with patience, when we protect each other, present truth with grace to each other, uplift each other, and believe in God's Spirit at work in each other.... we are worshipping Him! That's so cool to me how it all is so connected.

We need to recognize this so much more in the church! We need more encouragement, more love for each other....THAT is how others will know we are His. We can't just be God-focused and not others-focused. When you love on the Body, you love Him.

As a Body, we are different, unique, and not in agreement on everything. We have different backgrounds & opinions, we are on different parts of the journey all with our own unique struggles..... BUT when we bring that all together & get unified in Love for Him and each other - we are unstoppable. When we use our own unique gifts to serve each other - we are worshipping Him! People will see we are not of this world. We will bring out the best in each other and become the beautiful Bride Jesus deserves.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Self-Idolatry; God's Grace; The Body

I got off track in some areas and God has really opened my eyes to it. He has drawn me to Him like the gentle shepherd, reminding me in His grace that although I am a sheep, a natural wanderer, His power in me will help me stay on track but when I do stray - He will make sure to always lead me back.

It's so hard to recap everything that I'm learning right now but I'll try:

  • My plea to God the past months has been to keep me humble. Take away my pride. Truly, whenever I get more responsibilities that is my prayer. I don't want people to see me, I want people to see Him in me. I don't want to ever think that the work done through me is ME. I do not want to be prideful. I recognized through my series, What Pleases God --- that God isn't pleased with what HE does through me. He is pleased with my heart, with my faith - with ME - not how HE uses me.
  • I believe He truly continues to help me in this area of being humble. He showed me in such a powerful yet gentle way how wrong I've been in my relationship with Him. He showed me at least in a way that I could understand - just how HUGE and powerful He is. and that I wasn't treating Him as such. He reminded me just how perfect He was and that if I felt I was a "good person" it was because I was comparing myself to somebody or something else other than HIM. He truly just broke my heart over my sin. I recognized that so much of the time when I have been broken over my sin - it was broken over the punishment of my sin, not the sin itself. He is making me so much more sensitive to sin in my life and truly breaking my heart over what it is.
  • but then I felt I was back at square one in my journey.... how do I recognize just how ugly & broken I am without Him.... yet still love myself?
  • How do I accept His grace... yet not become prideful or self-righteous again?
  • How to recognize just how ugly & broken I am.... yet still have confidence to go out into the world and not be so self-defeating/condemning.

SOOO at the same time as all of that going on, this was too:

  • I've been asking God to fill me with just such a burning passion like a fire for Him & the Body of Christ. As Brandon and I help form the connections ministry with our church - I just wanted Him to help me just burn with Love for the Body, to see it connected, unified in Him. To be so passionate about helping people get connected so God can use those relationships as a tool to help us how to learn to love and have grace for each other and truly be His hands & feet.

And amazingly enough, He made those journeys happen at the same time for a reason. As always what I was learning privately - helped me corporately.

God showed me how self-focused I had become. He showed me once again I had another idol that I needed to allow Him to destroy. The idol was myself once again. I thought I had gotten over this - when I recognized this pride cycle I was going through so long ago..... BUT God really showed me that self-idolatry doesn't always show as pride & arrogance. Self-idolatry also shows in self-condemnation; self-hate; self-esteem issues. It doesn't sounds right but it's true!

Because don't you see the underlying thing there: SELF.

I had been so consumed with focusing on myself that I had turned my eyes off of HIM. I was looking for good, validation, significance, security in myself. I was leaning on my own efforts, understandings. When I'm so wrapped up in myself, there's no room for Him.

He showed me again again again (self: How many times must you be taught this lesson!) that to find my life - I must give it up! I need to stop trying to look for love, validation, security, significance in myself. Only when I release these needs for HIM to fill will I truly get my life back. God I pray I could just learn this lesson and never get off track in this area again. I have been soo consumed with myself I'm sick of myself.

God I AM SO sick of beating myself up over everything. Second-guessing. Doubting my efforts. Doubting who I am. Doubting that I am loveable. God I am WASTING my life. I am wasting everything you've done for me. I am so sick of not having confidence. God, help me get over myself!!!

The Spirit reminded me of this verse, one of my favorite verses:

Those that LOOK TO HIM are radiant; their faces are never covered in shame Psalm 34:5

God help me LOOK TO YOU. I am so sick of looking to myself and at myself. God help me look toward YOU.

Oh GOD the more I thought about this - the more my heart was broken for the state of the church right now. God I am surrounded by people who are lonely, who are thirsting for your love & acceptance. Hungry for the security, joy, confidence only YOU can provide. God I feel like this is the most basic of lessons but I'm always re-learning it! God ALL our needs are met in YOU and YOU alone. These are the needs you're talking about. Oh God help us all get over ourselves. Especially here in America we are so focused on individualism, being independent. God the Bible says something like, "how dare the foot say it doesn't need the arm. how could the eye say it doesn't need the hand"... we are all doing that God! It's so TRUE GOD. We are sooo wrapped up in ourselves we are trying to be the Body with only ourselves. It's impossible. Oh God thank you for filling me with this passion.

I realized that this is one of THE BIGGEST 'problems' with the American church right now God! Truly! We are so self-focused God. Brandon and I have done "experiments" if you will and it's AMAZING how we could go DAYS DAYS DAYS God in conversation with people & our friends and continue to ask about them, uplift them and allow them to talk about themselves and nobody ever asks the questions back or wants us to share back. We enjoy listening so it's okay - but it was soo eye opening to us just how RARE it is to find somebody/anybody who is truly God & others focused above themselves. People are soo wrapped up in themselves - they are not others-focused at ALL. These symptoms on the outside are just such symptoms of that void, that hunger for YOU God. That self-idol.

We can't love and focus on others until we are focused on you and we have the blessed assurance of security, love & significance in YOU.

God I learned this lesson soo long ago in my marriage but I keep having to re-learn it now in other situations.

God I asked you to please show me your love for me. and you did God. Time and time again you answer my prayers God. God for some reason YOU the Creator of this universe thought little nothing ME was worth saving when I was worth nothing. But God you RESCUED me out of the deepest darkest paths to eternal separation from you and said "look at how much I love you. I want to have a personal intimate relationship with you. Will you allow it!?" OH GOD the ludacrisness of this situation!!! YOU desiring & pursuing & offering relationship to ME. You tell me, "even in your darkest moments, I love you".....

Oh God I know that it's just because of your character not that I was worth saving --- but God help me accept that love and let it define me God. Help me find my identity in YOU God, a child of the King. Help me allow you to lavish your love on me. To find assurance that I am your child. To be assured that I am beautiful & can be confident because YOU the creator of this entire UNIVERSE loves ME! Oh God - you answer my questions, you hear my prayers and you answer..... how am I so blessed!? You even send me notes in 'weird' ways --- yesterday the note that said, "nobody will ever be just like ever, ever". Oh GOD my heart breaks for how long I didn't know this love & acceptance. My heart BREAKS for those that don't know this.

OHH How long I missed this lavish love because I was so focused on myself.

oh God when I am focused on you and not myself - your Spirit SOOTHES my Spirit and calms me down in the assurance that I am your child. Not your slave. not your toy. YOUR CHILD God.

Oh God this is what it's all about! When Romans talks about our minds being set on the Spirit and not our sinful nature. This is what it's about God. Being able ("training" even our minds to be able) to focus on YOU and not ourselves. To be defined by YOU. I get it God. Romans 8:1-17 God when I am focused on you, your Spirit will testify to my spirit that I am a child of God.

When I'm not focused on you --- the OTHER thoughts creep in. Thoughts apart from you. Thoughts that lead me to try to find the answers & ANY needs in anything other than YOU. And God anytime we try to fill those needs/answers/voids with anything but YOU God - we move closer to death not life. We become more broken, a larger void.

The cycle is stopped when we TURN back to you God. I get it God. TO DWELL on YOU.

Oh God I see it all - I see the big picture! I SEE that we need to be YOU-focused and OTHER-focused. We need to allow you to help us crucify once and for all ourselves as idols. To "die to self". I get it God!

To kill our sinful nature that leads us away from YOU and toward our own understanding, efforts.

Oh God I never got it. I never TRULY got your love. you are showing me everywhere I look. Today I opened this book, "Grace-Based Parenting".... and it was the last place I thought I'd find you would be woo-ing ME. Yet you did it God. Through those pages you showed me through my parenting and past experiences - that I can be so fixated on rules or judging/comparing to others that I am not even focused on you. This book reminded me that GRACE and LOVE were the largest and biggest message of the Bible, your Word. For so long God I have been trying to reimburse you for your love. Forgetting Romans 4:5 that there is NO work I can do that will make me right with you. I grew up just feeling guilty and I believe it was because I had learned to relate to you through rules/obedience and not running to you and desiring YOU to meet my needs of love, acceptance, grace. Rules that weren't even biblical --- but rules that were how some group decided to apply what was biblical. Your moral code is non-negotiable - but I was mistaking some people's application/interpretation of it to be THE moral code and it's not.

GOd you are more graceful & merciful than anybody I ever come across will be!

This book is awesome God! Thank you for letting this cross my path so much! It talks about my needs of security, significance, strength.... and how I'll get them from YOU... Through love, purpose, hope!

I had forgotten these things GOd. I had forgotten this all important basic message.

THANK YOU for getting me back on track God.

and THANK YOU for teaching me this lesson personally and tying it all together with the vision for connections for The Body.

God I truly believe that we won't ever learn to be others-focused unless we step out and commit to living in deep, authentic relationships with others.

God help me somehow spur others to desire to be in relationships in the Body. Help us get over this self-idolatry permeating our culture & lives. God I know you are telling me that being in relationship with others is THE greatest tool that you can use to help us be others-focused; to get over ourselves.

God, help us focus on YOU so our eyes can get off ourselves. Through you, we will have love, hope, purpose, significance, security we need... so that we can have confidence in who we are.... so that we can focus on OTHERS.

YOU are the answer. To everything.

1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary

and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,

my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,

and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;

with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;

I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,

I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;

your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63