Friday, December 31, 2010

My One Word 2011 - LOVE

As I sit here only 4 hours away from a new year... I am just in awe of God. When I look back at

My One Word for 2009 - Trust
My One Word for 2010 - Hope

I just want to run into His arms and thank Him for how real He made these truths in my life. He is SOO mind blowingly BIG but yet He - THE GOD who created the STARS and is above all that I can see, touch, feel, smell, or even imagine cars about ME and is so personal! He answers my questions, guides me, leads me. How important it is for us to take time to reflect back and have a "spiritual memory" to be able to see all He has done!!! God you are so AMAZING - I feel so unworthy to even think of you and yet despite my minute-ness you LOVE me. You love me enough to send your ONLY SON to die for MY sins. To be forsaken so I never have to be. God it's just.... so much.

Sorry a tangent.... God I just LOVE YOU!!! THANK YOU for helping me TRUST and HOPE. THANK YOU for the beautiful tapestry you are making my life into. THANK YOU!!!!

Am I perfect in these areas? Absolutely NOT --- but you really did change me and help me grow drastically.

These past 2 years, He has shown me what it looks like to trust. He proved His trustworthiness. He showed me this year, 2010, that hope does not disappoint! He is the perfect orchestrator of our lives and He is good. Jeremiah 29:11. HE has the plans and they are for our good, for our hope and our future! Instead of worrying about my future - I should trust, hope and be patient! Romans 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer!

He IS THE king, the Sovereign Lord Almighty and so worthy of our trust, our hope, our praise!

What a miserable wretch & failure I am in many ways.... I have such a new disgust for my sin.. and sin in general. I hate it....but I KNOW that I am of worth because HE made me and HE saved me and now lives in me! I will cling on to the promise that I'm a new creation and His Spirit is in me!

Thinking of what One Word I wanted to focus on in 2011... I kept thinking of the verse I Corinthians 13:13 and now these three remain... faith hope and love...but the great of these is LOVE.

I want to love better. I mean that so earnestly God. I am so sick of not loving my husband and my children as I should. I am so sick of not loving my family like I ought. I am sick for being back to a place of being so controlled by my emotions. I was freed from that and I picked that burden right back up. God free me again!

I am so sick of being more full of love for strangers or acquaintances than those who are closest to me!! God it doesn't make any sense. I KNOW that you have done so much in me and I should be showing SO much more fruit than I do sometimes!! I go through a 'spell' and I wither. The fruits that were showing as you were alive in me so quickly disappear.

I have spent so much time absorbing information and growing in knowledge of you, your Church, Life, the Bible..... but I have missed the joy. The one thing I told myself I wouldn't do -- I did.

I am reminded of what Shane Claiborne said in Irristible Revolution. Out of the whole huge list of things God has done through their ministry around the world.... what does Shane say is the most beautiful and challenging thing they do? Love each other. Love the people in their core small group....whatever they call themselves. Love each other.

God I have loved others outside my home more than I've loved my family inside. God give me a new passion and vision for christian homes and what you desire for our home! I truly DO believe that you are looking and searching for people who earnestly are seeking to love and follow you! and I truly believe that you can change the entire state of the nation by changing the homes. You can change whole communities, states, nations -- by the work you do in individual's hearts and homes.

For 2011 I desire so deeply to marinate myself in God's Word & to truly allow the Spirit to flow through me!! Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John 7:38 . God I desire your Spirit to flow through me! Help me beat down my flesh and make it impossible to be around me and not see Jesus's love radiating.

God I want to figure out how to truly enjoy HIM for all He is. Stir my affections for you God and help me get back into that "sweet spot" season again with you God. You are my first love God - don't let me harden my heart or turn away from you in even the slightest way God! You are perfect, Holy, Sovereign, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the One True God. I want to enjoy YOU - not only the blessings you give, but YOU.

I know that this is the key step to letting love flow through me. To not forget the JOY. To not forsake my first love. To glorify God by enjoying Him forever. To be so full of the Joy of being His and having His Love that Love just overflows through me like a spring of living water.

God help me keep my zeal and spiritual fervor, serving the Lord yes... Romans 12.... but God Help me live it out God! Show me teach me lead me change me to LOVE deeper wider bigger better! ♥

In our home God, help us submit to each other God. Yes we love our children so much.... but God help us love them so much deeper. Help us be patient when we make short term decisions because we just want quiet. Help us make the effort to discipline right when we want to whip them into shape quickly but wrongly. Help us God give them our time & attention when we are so tired and want nothing more to selfishly pull into ourselves.

Help us use LOVING words that build up, support & encourage! Help us show LOVING attitudes to each other always! Help us God show our children how to love by how we love YOU and how we love each other!

God - help me show my love for my husband through respecting him.

Oh heavenly Father - help me be slow to anger and abounding in Love. Jesus - I want to be more like you. God I want to be more patient and graceful and slow to anger.... Father - help me not be controlled by my emotions. Daddy Abba Father help me be in tune enough with your Spirit to not be captive to my own emotions anymore. I have battled this before and I know you'll help me again! You are my rescuer & redeemer & healer.

Change me God! You are the Father, I am the clay. You are the Potter. I am simply the work of your hands. Mold me God!


God you are slow to anger in abounding in Love Joel 2:13

How priceless is your unfailing love! Ps 36:7

God your love endures forever! 2 Ch 5:13

Your love is better than life! Psalm 63:3

You, the LORD are good and Your love endures forever Psalm 100:5

God you are slow to anger, abounding in Love Psalm 103:8

The earth is filled with your love, LORD; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:64

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. Psalm 145:8

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

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

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. I Cor 8:1b-3

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. I Peter 4:8
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? I John 3:16-17

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

I John 4:7-21

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love 2 John :5-6

1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Vine & The Branches

In 2007, God spoke to my heart a statement that truly was a huge jumping off point for my journey WITH Him:

you are not connected to God through the Church - you are connected to the Church through God

This seed in my heart continues to take on more significance every year. At that time He first planted it in me - I was praying for a replacement spiritual mentor. My grandma had just died and I was lost. The week she died, I found myself laid out, cheek on the sidewalk, soaked in my tears of pain - just aching. I ached for not being able to see grandma again on earth, I ached for my mom, I ached for the mentorship I lost, I ached mostly because I knew I couldn't fake it anymore. I felt in a way that I was coming before the throne just me for the first time. I kept crying out for God to help me know Him. That I wanted to TRULY know Him - like grandma did. I had always approached the throne through grandma or with grandma (without her even knowing that really) and it was time to run to Him myself.

I was brokenhearted - and He came close - as He promises. He responded to that genuine outcry to Him and planted this truth in my heart. I knew then that I could stop searching so hard for mentors. I really felt Him loving on me saying - I know that you feel that you don't fit in anywhere - you fit with me. I promise you that the church's (lack of) approval of you or notice of you is no indicator of me and what I feel about you.

I felt so empowered. I felt so loved! I really felt He was asking me to STOP putting people in between me & Him. Jesus was the ONLY intercessor I needed.

He reconciled me to Himself. I am His and nothing can separate me from His love. Late 2008 early 2009 - God then started giving me this wonderful passion for His Church. His Body. His Bride. I was reconciled with Him --- and now looking back I realize that the next step was allowing Him to reconcile me with His Body - the rest of the believers. I believe that genuine, loving, reconciled, authentic relationships with others are only possible through close relationship with Jesus.

It's a process - it's a journey and so He continues to reveal more and more - but right now as I wrote about previously, He has called us to step outside the pen - the usual Sunday scene and way of 'doing' Church. That's a whole other story but basically - the Shepherd called us out - and the sheep know the Shepherd's voice and answer to His call. I trust Him. I don't get it all - I can't see the whole path in front of me --- but I do see the lamp upon my path right here in front of me and hear what He's asking. I trust His Spirit in me. I don't need the safety of the pen when I have the safety of the Spirit. again... that's another story.... BUT

Recently He introduced us to some other sheep and one of them put this seed in my heart into such great perspective. When I told him all this that God had done - He said oh wow,

I am the vine, you are the branches. Matthew 15:5 The branches are not connected to each other. The branches are connected to the vine..... SO because of that - we are connected to each other. Yes! We ARE the branches! There's the scriptural backing up of what God spoke to me years ago.

Wow - 3 years later this seed in my heart continues to grow - thank you God! :)

I can't stop thinking of this imagery.

Right now I'm reflecting on the visual of branches and the fact that the branches are closest to each other when they are closest to the vine!! When they are further from the vine - they are further from each other! Much more to come....

Thank you Jesus for all your reconciling work!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

After the leap

God is so faithful. So big. So loving. So trustworthy!! It truly has been the most wonderful journey these past 2 years especially. I could probably write for half a day straight about all He has shown us, done for us, done in us & through us.....

If I could talk to myself in the summer of 2008 (and really specifically back to may 13th, 2007 when 'my' world was rocked) from today, the future... I would say oh Randi Jo you have just made a decision that will forever change everything. God is about to rock everything you thought you knew! I would encourage myself to never give up hope and keep on keeping on. I'm glad I can't see into the future though and see what the battles ahead look like. He is so smart to give us only a lamp unto our feet... and not a spotlight onto the whole path we have to go. We can handle ONE step at a time - and sometimes we even do a horrible job at that! ---- doubting Him, doubting Him in us, refusing to obey.

Yes this journey of accepting the Holy Spirit and learning to abide in God daily, allowing Him to truly be my KING, my LORD - daily submitting to Him.... has been hard. It is hard to go against the flow of the masses. Hard to "float upstream". I felt lonely for the majority of the time since He came into my life. I have felt lonely in rooms full of 'family'. Lonely in rooms full of 'friends'. Lonely with brothers & sisters in Christ. But through all of it - the truth is I was NEVER alone and I knew that - no matter how I felt. Christ experienced true loneliness... so I will never have to.

I have had times of resenting the seeds He gave me. I oftentimes hated the tension I felt as I sat in a room with people I loved who were making decisions to go one direction when I know the Spirit was nudging us exactly opposite. It was difficult to speak out what God was showing me knowing it would challenge others with a lot more experience, money, backing, popularity, and 'wisdom'. But God does use the foolish doesn't He? I am naive. I foolishly believe that He can use little old nobody me. and looking back I can see that the warning flags He gave me DID come true because of decisions made. I have to trust Him in me.

Sometimes it was more difficult to refrain myself and NOT go out "in a blaze of glory" flipping tables as our friends have described.... but He orchestrated our departure beautifully.

I am totally humbled at the seeds God planted in my heart and continues to. Many times I recognize seeds from God because they come out of nowhere. Like sitting in the shower thinking about the cheeseburger I just ate and then BAM something enters my thoughts so powerfully and so off the train that it is as noticeable as an elephant all of a sudden walking into my house. Many times the thoughts seem impossible... foolish.... and simply profound. Many times they are just little 'nudges' that may seem simple & meaningless and then looking back - I see listening to that 'nudge' started a ripple effect that profoundly impacted the molding He was doing in me.

God has grown in me a passion for Him and His Church.. out of nowhere. I was just a simple nobody in a traditional baptist church sitting in a pew and going through the motions... and He used the death of grandma to knock me to my knees (well cheek to the cement on the sidewalk) crying out to Him that I wanted to KNOW Him. TRULY KNOW Him like grandma did.

He has given me a passion for the Truth. Passion for sheperding and His Word. Passion for THE Message!

I am passionate about HIS work being done in us individually... and therefore in His Bride. I am passionate about our role of being Jesus' Bride & His Body... and the submission that is needed in that role. I am so in awe that He chose me to speak so much into.

To summarize where I am now ---- we leapt (leaped?) -- we made the decision to leave/step away from the system of things that we feel are becoming idols to many in our western culture... and things that we feel are ultimately ineffective in discipling people, unifying the Body or bringing glory to God. As hard as the leap was - it was easy. Everything up to the leap was a lot harder. Finally leaping was so beautiful to feel that freedom and just ahhhh peace.

As freeing as it felt - nothing in life is without some struggle. Just like baby birds leaping out of its nest into the unforgiving uncomproming gravity - we felt like we were doing nothing but fluttering as hard as we could at first. Fluttering as we felt we had lost some 'security' even though that wasn't true. Fluttering as we detoxed from the 'feelings, emotions and power' of the Sunday show. Fluttering as we had to come face to face with many of our idols we didn't even know we had. Fluttering as we realized how few genuine authentic relationships we had. Fluttering as we found out how much work God had to do in us - how badly we wanted to fit in and people please when God was trying to get us to focus on Him and not those around us. Fluttering as we had to come face to face with ourselves spiritually and be in a raw, real, genuine place with God - outside of all the theatrics.

but God is so faithful. After that period of fluttering... He has made sure to cover us in His love, encourage us through others & each other, reassure our souls through His Word & Spirit. Spur us back to obedience & the discipline of abiding in Him.... not because we were told to do it. Not because it's part of a 5 step process to be closer to Him... not because "everybody" is doing it... but because He called us and our heart responds. We desire to "Seek Him".... "Cry out when He is near" .

He has renewed us again and reminded us that HE is our strength. Though our little wings feel tired - HE is our rest. and He won't let us drop. HE gives strength to the weary.... those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength! They will soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31) Amen. This verse is so special to me. One of our verses we pray for Raymond and gave him at his birth. One of the verses my grandma (my spiritual mentor) really held tight to and passed on to me at a young age.

He has taken our little tiny tired aching wings and given us strength. In such a short time He has truly changed us in so many ways. Changed our marriage, changed the way we face decisions & the way we look at new information.

We have been gathering with brothers & sisters we actually met online over a year again but just never made the decision to gather. We have been meeting for about 3 months and last night had our 2nd "vertical" time with God together. We had been doing a lot of horizontal time before that - reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer, getting to know each other, sharing stories, encouraging each other in Scripture, sharing what God had been teaching us. And I'm so glad one of our brothers encouraged us into vertical time. Though I know the horizontal time is worshipping God as well! I love being together. I love worshipping God through many forms - as one Body. I love how Raymond sees it all play out. I love how he is there with us as we read the Word together, pray together, sing together, teach and encourage each other. I look forward to being in an even closer knit community in the future and taking even more steps to being the Body He desires us to be!

God has proven again and again how little He needs OUR work. It's not our work. It is His. Santification and His building of His Temple, His Body, His Bride.

As far as building His Church - HE IS! and I want to continue to participate in that. He keeps connecting us to others - in such cool - only God could have done that - ways and it's amazing how little marketing the Holy Spirit needs. But that's a whole other post!!!

God you have no need to prove anything to us - yet you care so much about our little nothing lives. You prove yourself faithful to us all the time. You are so trustworthy. So powerful.

I am not an emergent christian... I am not a christian hipster... I still don't know a label for us other than God's children, servants of the Christ, part of His Bride, His Church, His Body. I don't need a label.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog note

Oh my sweet blog,
I don't know what to do with you. I love you. I love how fast I can type my thoughts out compared to handwriting. I love how many memories are in these words on this blog. I love reading back through different seasons and journeys God has taken me on in the past 3 years.

But then I look back at some of my old posts and I'm like WOW WOW WOW I do not agree with this post anymore at ALL. And what's the point of this blog anyway? I don't want to talk/write anymore as much as I want to LIVE OUT what I've learned and all He has done.

but I DO want to continue to practice writing and have that release which I know is soo good for me to have this special place where I can retreat to away from the kiddos & household duties.

So do I just keep the blog up for history sake? Do I take down old posts that I don't agree with anymore? Should I just keep on writing in my regular journal and stay off the internet for awhile? (Even though I can barely read my regular journal since my handwriting is so horrendous). Or should I start back writing all that He is up to?

I don't know. :) That's all....

we'll see what God says

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Leap time

For years now - God has been planting in us seeds about 'church' and how we think of it. What started as seeds of passion for people and to truly LOVE and LISTEN and CARE about those around us has turned into a passion to truly BE part of the ekklesia - the true ekklesia. His Body - growing because of the work of the Holy Spirit - an alive changing Body living life together being molded & knit together through His work. Learning through life experiences and being together ---- to get closer to God & each other.

When we have grown up understanding a concept to be one way - it truly is so hard to break down those traditions & mindsets even if the Truth smacks us in the face. I KNOW in my heart that church isn't something I can GO to. It's not something I can get dressed for. It's not a building. It's not a weekly gathering. It's not music & a sermon. But it's been a hard time convincing my head. I have been having Saturday night anguish for over 6 months now - knowing in my heart that I didn't have to GO to church on Sunday -- yet not being able to fully release that to my head.

Last night we met with some awesome new brothers & sister at home and I can say I was truly stretched & challenged for the first time in so long. It is so awesome to be with people soo different from us - yet so like-hearted in what God is doing. All so awakened to the gospel & the Spirit of God! I am so excited about what God is going to do through these new relationships and our faith to simply step out in faith/reach out to those He is putting in our paths.

But after they left - the holy anguish set in again. I love my church family - all parts of it! Even those that "do" church. I completely know that God uses all different venues, ways of doing things dependent on where people are on the walk. So that has made it even harder to be released from the traditional setting we are in. Many wouldn't call it traditional - but it is. It's dressed up in cooler louder music and jeans - but it's the same tradition & model.

But today something happened. Throughout the gathering - I once again did not feel peace in the presence of my family. I know it isn't because of torn relationships - I feel those have wounds have been healed and forgiveness is complete --- the peace is not there simply because God doesn't want to give me peace in that setting. He has called us to a new path and a new journey! :) He has done so much work in us -- no matter how hard I try - I can't go with the flow of the masses. One part of me just rolls my eyes at myself and says man just once in my life I'd like to be 'normal' and fit in and be able to be happy to go with the flow.... but I know the truth is - we are not normal and God has done too much in us.

In my own lack of courage and desire to people please and fear --- I haven't listened to God. I have tried to please man --- been worried about being more berated, belittled or judged and in doing so - have ignored the Spirit of God in me. I have tried to please everybody and it isn't working.

So throughout today's gathering - God made sure I felt no peace. Then through words spoken about the past year and what has gone on --- He made me realize that what has happened in the past year - was such a differnet experience for each of us going through it... It was like it wasn't even the same experience! God made it clear just how different each viewpoint was. People who were praised, I felt needed to be chastised. What was the beginning of the end for me -- they made clear was the beginning for them and what they were most excietd about. What I fought tooth and nail against - is the very thing they cherish the most. No right or wrong - simply different viewpoints for differnet passions & paths. Different things were shown to us from the Spirit.

It was enough for me to feel released finally --- but God went even further to make sure I heard loud and clear. Pastor Chris said simply -- if God is asking you to do something -- DO IT. Immediately and fearlessly. Pastor Chris went against the flow of the stream he was in in New York to come down here... and now it's our time to do the same.

Yes it will be hard to not gather where everybody gathers on that 1 day a week - especially knowing how social I am - but those who are our true friends we will still see! And quite frankly we can't do both. We can't be fence sitters anymore. We can't support something we clearly don't believe in... even if we support the people. I truly relate to the passage where Jesus teaches about giving up even family for Him. I feel like I am having to give up/leave family -- but HE is so much more important!!!

Just because we might be the sole pioneers in our current group of friends on this new path doesn't mean it's wrong. It's wrong for them. I am soo sick of 2nd guessing the Spirit of God in me. I won't let that doubt creep in again. I knew what God was speaking into me a year ago when I met this group and wasn't afraid to passionately share it.... and that hasn't changed... the passion hasn't changed - but I did allow it to be quieted. BUT I believe all the visions He gave us even more wholeheartedly now and I know what God has shown me. I'm just so thankful I was able to keep my mouth shut throughout the past months! I really don't think God wanted me to leave in a blaze of glory :) Let them go where they are going. and let me go where I'm going. As much as I want those paths to be the same.. they aren't.

I can not pretend to be content going with the flow of this current anymore. Thank you God for delivering me -- my Deliverer! Thank you for the FREEDOM!!! Thank you for this shift.

God don't let me go back & forth. I pray the best for Crosswinds and its leaders and for them to not lose their zeal and passion for the path they are on. I pray for the relationships there and for God to increase their love and commitment to each other and honor for each other.

I pray that God will give us boldness and courage. That He will turn my eyes away from others even those that will turn their back on us ... and that He will put my eyes on to Him alone. Help us GO God. Help us truly BE the change we want to see. Help us not be normal! Help us take this leap and take steps to truly living out how to BE your Church!

God let YOUR work be down. Help us not rely on any man made efforts or institutions: but instead let us trust in your Spirit!!

just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless Ephesians 5:25

Our role isn't striving/effort! but instead submission to allow Him to work!

God I am okay with being a faceless nameless part of the Body and letting YOU get all glory. I am okay with being a humble servant willing to do the "small" in our daily lives and not just trying with my own efforts for BIG BIG BIG. I know many times what we see as BIG... you see as small. You know our hearts God - what's truly going on in our hearts and not these outside happenings. What we see as small - you sometimes see as HUGE!

God for some reason I'm not blown away by what others are excited about. I used to be - when I was a business student and was all sold out for marketing... but at Southside you showed me that you didn't want me to apply my marketing skills to your Church. Numbers and money don't get me fired up... what is happening in hearts & behind the scenes is what gets me fired up. What is happening in relationships and community? What's the relational foundation that is being built on? What changes are you making in people's lives during the week? How are people being empowered and how is power being diffused amongst the Body? How are gifts being encouraged?

Just because there are numbers & money doesn't mean you wanted it done the way it was done. Without relational accountability & intimacy from the first core group and on - the Church will continue to hurt others without reconciliation -leaving just as many battered and bruised on the side of the road as the parade marches on -- as are brought in and introduced to God. We are not meant to operate outside of community and intimate relationships. We are saved individually by you --- but then we are brought into a faith that is not an individual faith. and that doesn't mean trying to have intimacy with strangers once a week.

What gets me fired up? YOU. The Gospel. Chains being broken. Outcasts being loved on and brought "in". The Power of the Spirit. Relationships! Intimacy with you and others! Your Body! Forgiveness. Humility. Zeal. Paradigm Shifts. Passion. The LIVING water that's never stagnant! Knowing that discipleship and growing doesn't need a PROGRAM to happen --- discipleship is simply a mix of the Holy Spirit and community -- just like Jesus did. Disciples were made by living in community with Jesus. 12 to go start a movement that would change history. No programs, no formal classes, no marketing .... LIFE together and the Spirit.

Praying together, proclaiming the gospel together, teaching of the Word together, helping those in need together, observing the Lord's supper together - the purposes of the Church. Fellowship occuring in all.

Give us wings as we leap God!

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Default Mode Of The Human Heart

Thought provoking clip. Will write more later:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Updates before Evelyn's arrival

I don't know what I'm doing with this blog -but I figure it's time to write something before life gets crazy with baby Evelyn arriving so shortly!! :) We are less than 2 weeks away from meeting her face to face and we are soo excited! :)

God has been blessing us soo much the past weeks (always really right?) - the season of waiting and mourning even seems to be coming to an end, praise God!!! :) B accepted a new job offer, Raymond is doing so great and we are finally figuring out how to parent as a team (though some days we really feel we have NO clue what we're doing - we're making progress!) and the weather is finally nice so we can get OUT and Evelyn will be here so soon!! :) It's just a great season of life.

I've been learning a lot - and writing about it in my journal - but the majority of what is going on right now I'd say is, "never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in afflication, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:11-13 and that's as simple as I hear Him keeping it for me.

Just start where you are Randi Jo. and don't lose your zeal and that spiritual fervor that He has blessed you with. It's not a life shattering huge revelation He is asking me to soak in. I truly believe He is asking me to truly just start LIVING and stop WAITING right where I am - exactly as I am right now. Take the seeds that He has planted and is growing and do with them what I can right now. "Small" acts and steps are many times HUGE acts and steps. I believe so many times the world needs more people willing to do the small.

So that's where I am. Seize the day type message.... learning to truly be fully alive NOW while at the same time never losing the visions He has planted in our hearts.

Right now I'm a wife, a mom, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an aunt. I am asking Him to continue to open up my eyes to who He wants me to reach out to. He has blessed me with some GREAT new relationships and helped me stop living so 'surfacy' (facebook!) and truly learn to BE the change I want to see.

Today at the park I realized again how sensitive I am.... and am learning always how to have grace for others that maybe don't get that. Many times people say things without knowing the wounds we have or weights we carry and the devil knows that and will twist any words to make us heap more on our back and I really recognized that today. I recognized his scheme for what it was and simply talked to God about it right then and acknowledged I would not let him steal my joy. He would love nothing better than to bring fear/guilt to this time of joy and blessing and I will not allow it is. I'm sure other mommies feel the same way and carry around their own wounds and I realize that you can never over-encourage a fellow mommy. I am in a great place to share that gift of encouragement and help others find ways to have grace for themselves and for their children. I am free to be me... even if I am a sensitive, sometimes overthinking, child-focused mommy who doesn't want to be exactly like others. I don't like to agree on everything with my friends and I will live in that freedom and look for others who desire the same. Thank you God for that freedom and strength and for these lessons.

Help me continue to walk in your FREEDOM, in your GRACE and never be lacking in zeal God. Help me reach out to those around me and be content with where I am right now yet always joyful in HOPE for what is to come! :)

God you are so good!!!! :) THANK YOU FOR THIS SEASON!!!! I am just blown away at how different life is going to be than it was last year this time... or even last MONTH. Praise God for CHANGE, for breakthroughs, for the seasons of life we go through! Out of the ashes is rising beauty once again, THANK YOU GOD for this beauty. Thank you for being with me through the process of these past years and never giving up! Thank you for the lessons you're teaching me and most of all for the RELATIONSHIP you are allowing me to have with you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Great News!

On this rainy day, I just felt God drawing me to have some extra quiet time and He is just overwhelming me with The Message. I just feel the need to proclaim The Message. To uplift the Good News! As I've been going through a season almost sabbatical-like the past weeks (months) God has given me a lot of time of stillness and calm (calm before the storm maybe!) and I'm just so touched with the passion He has put into me again. Passion for Him and this beautiful gospel message.

No matter what season you are going through - I pray that anybody who reads this - God will open your heart and just overwhelm you with the GREAT news!! Great news that is so world changing that I don't know how we can keep it inside like we do! How do we keep from talking about it all the time!? Can you even believe what we were saved from!? We were headed toward destruction, eternal anguish and separation from our only True Love... but He came and saved us from ourselves! God of this universe came to this very earth and went through not only the worst that this earth can dish out but the worst that the devil could dish. Death. The weight of the sins of the world - the abandonment and forsakeness... as He got the full wrath of our (my) sins is beyond words. It takes my breathe away and touches my soul like nothing else does.

He, a perfect man, perfectly in love with God had to have that torn from Him... God threw the weight of the world on Him and made Him be alone --- truly alone --- so we would never have to be. Jesus became sin (2 cor 5:21) - and fully felt all the abandonment and loneliness that sin always produces along with the excruciating pain and physical torture leading up to it.

May we praise God for all He has done and never do anything to get in the way of this Good News --- THE news worth proclaiming! No matter how lonely we may feel - we are never truly alone because JEsus was. No matter what happens to us ---- God has made it clear - He will never forsake us. Jesus went through that for us. What a promise. What a God. What a Savior. What a message!

May the beauty of this season penetrate our hearts so we will not be able to continue on focusing on anything else. I pray for us to never take for granted what this Good News truly is and that the majority of those in our world do not Have it - do not get it! I know that if somebody saved our lives last week from a man with a gun... or car about to hit us --- we would tell everybody and be so full of LIFE and thankfulness. Why do we not do the same for what our Savior did for us!? It should make no difference we were saved 2000+ years ago and not last week! Let us never lose our passion of how much more we have been saved from. No matter how many times I sit and dwell on this message --- I feel like it's the first time I've heard it! I feel like I'm born again.. again!

I pray this can be our focus all year long and not just Resurrection Sunday.

So since I most likely will be having a baby around Resurrrection Sunday this year - here's my proclamation and sharing of the passion He has given me.





Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Gospel Saves from Morality - Piper

I loved this! This was completely divine that I just received this. The timing was impeccable. It made me cry (the gospel always does) and I had a paradigm shift as I listened to it.

Living from the Spirit, through sanctification after salvation vs. living by the law.... is like the difference between living by the external boundaries our parents exert on us (as is required by parents)... vs. becoming mature and having internal boundaries, a changed heart, a changed motives (growing up).

When we are mature, we no longer live by external requirements because those external boundaries (law, morality) have became internalizedsomehow (the Spirit). We are no longer bound by external boundaries. It's the same with our walk as Spirit beings as much as it is our walk to be thriving adults in our society. I got all the boundary think from this the book I'm reading, Boundaries....

Let me re-word it a bit....

As parents (and as young christians) it's so important to have external boundaries (rules/law if you will) but our prayer is for those external boundaries to not be needed. We pray the person will be changed and the boundaries are no longer necessary. What was external can become internal and then there is freedom. As our children grow from rule-needing youngsters into mature free adults... so we should grow through santificiation to a point where the outward pressures - from the Word, from people, from the church, from ourselves - are not even a factor.

Our motives are no longer to stay in the lines or to please --- our motive is simply to be alive. A life fully alive and lived out of the Spirit. Our Spirit fully alive with His Spirit in us.

This also really spoke to me the truth that when we see others around us struggling with the flesh, unless it is our children, it is not the time to pass on the law --- it is the time to even more than usual promote the gospel and pray for God to spur the person back into His arms and be cleaned out from the inside.

Sanctification cleans from the inside out.... *HIS* work in us.

The law spurs *us* to clean ourselves on the outside.

What a difference!!!

Like a whitewashed tomb, what is inside, who we truly are, can be dead and rotting as we clean up and make ourselves presentable again to the world to meet outside requirements --- but while we do that, we aren't even giving Him room to work. Do we even care what He thinks? He knows what is inside and He is concerned about the presentation to Him not the presentation to the world.

This surely puts a whole new way in my mind on how to to approach sin in myself and others. The problem is never a law problem - it's an inside issue that HE needs to take care of on the INside. The solution is not to get out the scrub brush ourselves. The solution is the gospel. Proclaiming the gospel to those we see struggling ("encourage"), reminding ourselves of it and running back to HIM so HIS work can be done.

P.S. some after thoughts: there are so many implications being gospel-focused brings. I realize that I really appreciate people who don't get out the scrub brush. As uncomfortable as it makes me sometimes -- why bother with the brush anyway? Let others see you as God does, good or bad. That's what true community is about isn't it? And I really appreciate people who allow the change to happen from the INside - out. It's always slower that way, more painful, yet it's TRUE change. Long term change. And finally... am I willing... truly... to stay and be around people who are not scrubbed up? For how long?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Suffering and "Prosperity"

The notions of suffering & struggle as well as 'prosperity' & blessing have been on my mind a lot these past years. The 2 most recent discussions in my heart have been on Genesis 39 - the story of Joseph and also Jeremiah 29:11.

Genesis 39 was tough for me recently because parts of it rubbed me the wrong way. I was trying to figure out if something was lost in the translation, if I was reading into specific verses too much and not reading them in context of the bigger picture, or what. Specifically vs 2, 3 and 5

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered... - 2

...When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did... - 3

...The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field... - 5

I guess what bothered me was knowing how people can abuse these verses. One could read this and begin claiming these verses are telling us that when the Lord is with you, you prosper. And when the Lord is with you, you will have success in everything.... and blessing will be on house, field, all. (and then vice versa they will say... well if you aren't successful and don't have blessing... the Lord must not be with you - ouch!). That makes sense to me --- if we're talking about spiritual success/prosperity - but in these verses it bothered me because it was clearly talking about 'worldy' success/blessings. On the house and in the field - and something Potiphar, not a follower of God, recognized. So I saw how it could be 'abused'.

The past years I felt like God had been teaching me away from this 'prosperity' gospel. I don't believe all children of God will be 'successful' or 'prosperous' in earthly terms .... just like I don't believe God will have all of us be healed from diseases and live really long healthy lives. What this verse made me do though was recognize that earthly blessings *are* from God. The reminder that money/earthly blessings/things are not inherently good or bad... it's the *love* for them that is. I think where I am with this passage is that Potiphar, through Joseph's spirit, faith, and attitude saw that there was something different about him... and at the same time the Lord did give earthly rewards to Joseph as well as spiritual. Perhaps that is what Potiphar needed to see to understand Joseph's relationship with God. He needed to see the "blessings" to allow Joseph's story to continue and Potiphar to continue to assign him and keep him around..... so God did use the earthly blessings to show His relationship with Joseph. So God will use worldly blessings to reward us.

At the same time - what I also want to acknowledge is that if God doesn't reward with worldly blessings it doesn't mean we are necessarily out of His will or out of His favor! Things that the world says are "good" can also be used for "bad".....and things that seem "bad", God can use for "good". Basically - God is not limited by the world's definitions (duh) and isn't concerned so much about our earthly stances than our spiritual health. Though He does care about us here!

This is the primary focus of Joseph's story - he was abandonded from his brothers and family, sold to be a slave, wrongly accused.... all "bad" things for sure -but all during that time, the Lord was with Him and he was in His favor. I wish it had mentioned that more when Jopseh was struggling - not just proclaiming the favor when things were turning around and "looking up". But in the long term, God used it all for the good. What others used for bad - God intended for good.

So I think the general lesson God wanted me to learn through Genesis 39 was that yes the Bible even mentions "prosper" and "success" and is referring to earthly prosperity/success in certain verses.... and that's okay. It's just that those verses should not be taken individually as a way for somebody to justify that God desires all of us to *always* prosper in *earthly* terms. There are too many other verses in the Bible to be taken to contradict that.

The second verse that came into my mind after thinking of "prosperity" was Jeremiah 29:11. One of the first verses I ever memorized.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Which is another verse that I believe can be over-used and abused. A verse that can be "claimed" as people try to get God to agree with *their* plans of prosperity, hope and future here on earth as they desire.

This verse is not promising earthly prosperity and the future that *we* desire here on earth. When I looked up the word "prosper" used in the original Hebrew and the word was "Shalom" - a word many of us are familiar with - the Theological WorldBook of the Old Testament says Shalom can mean, "Completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment. . . . Unimpaired relationships with others and with God"

So the "prosper" here isn't an emphasis on earthly gain/wealth.... but on positive relationship with God & others.

This shalom God was promising wasn't a promise of immediate justice but a long term promise that His plans would not be thwarted. It may seem like the world is full of injustice & evil is flourishing and going unchecked... but God is assuring us once again of His control.

So then I started thinking about my husband's situation at work with a boss who is miserably negative, abusive, hot headed and down right immoral. (btw - obviously we won't have shalom with everybody! as the new testament shows how common persecution was --- but He will make sure to give us Shalom with Him and others to support us!) This job for the past 6 years has been full of suffering yet I know Brandon has done what God has asked of him. He doesn't react in anger, he stays calm and is a kind servant... and he many times suffers because of it.

And I recognized how angry that makes me! I had such wrong expectations of the world system. I truly believed my schooling and the way of the world growing up that when you do what's right, it will be rewarded. What you sow you shall reap. Hard work will always lead to promotion..... but I realized that although that applied in school and chores around the house - the world system is a mess! The law of sowing & reaping can not be applied where and how I want it to be... especially today it seems where so few companies are moral! or have loyalty and good business practicies with their employees.

However, how we face adversity is what makes all the difference and that *is* our responsibility - we can not change others or how others treat us. We can't change the evil in the world. We can't change many external situations - but we can make a choice to not let it control us and have power over our hearts and our emotions. When we are struggling, will we become a victim and allow our situation to drag us down and allow us to be bitter, angry and discouraged forever? Will we start making statements that the whole world is against us and convince ourselves that is true? "nothing ever goes our way".... OR will we understand that how we respond can make the situation a curse or a blessing. Will we run to God and ask Him to make good out of this? Will we ask Him to keep our hearts pure and believe in the hope we can have in Him? Will we take ownership of our response and emotions when we are struggling?

Despite what a mess the world is... I do trust that 'law' of sowing & reaping is a promise from God for the long term. That when the new Jerusalem comes and we are in full glory - we will have justice, full reward for our sowing and "prosperity" in all ways.

For the christian life on earth, there is that "balance" of 'suffering' and 'prosperity'. Life on earth is full of suffering and I don't think we, especially our generation, are being prepared for it or even acknowledging it. We truly would rather things be easy and have leaders who agree with that and only preach on that! And then try to lead us that way - to try to get control of our lives - how to get through life with as little pain and struggle as possible. Preachers and leaders who make it seem like glory can be *now* and life can be easy if you follow x, y, z steps. Making it seem it is possible to be in control and have it all together and have things go exactly as planned! (yeah right!)

Where is God in that all? Where is taking up the cross? Where is Romans 5? where is so much of the new testament? Why are we so busy preaching "how to's" and life lessons and how to have a better life --- and not the beautiful gospel of salvation & reconciliation!?

Perhaps our generation and what is happening is a case of how "good" things can be be "bad". We put so much security in 'things' and how easy life is for most of us (especially in comparison with the rest of the world!!) that when things get even a little hard, our entitlement attitudes won't even allow us to suffer with right perspective. This journey isn't supposed to be 'easy' and the path to glory is paved with suffering. Romans 5. As much as I don't like to admit it, it's the truth. There is a role of suffering in sanctification. Suffering is one of the way God molds and conforms us to Him as a potter does to His clay. Isaiah 64.

So again the lessons I feel God nudging me on are:

Contentment: But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. - I Timothy 6:6-9

and to remember to continue to "give God" the suffering we're going through. I often had in my mind what "suffering" (for God/carrying our cross) was supposed to look like --- some sort of persecution with the most radical being death for confessing Christ --- but really suffering is different for each of us. Sometimes it doesn't even seem related to our 'faith' at all, right?

Just as our experiences and personalities and heart is different - so is our suffering unique to us - and many times it's not the suffering we would choose for ourselves.

We are recognizing the suffering for what it is and as much as we don't "like" it - we are learning. We are learning to talk to Him first and seek Him first no matter what's going on and pray for His wisdom, insight and for Him to help us see His sovereignty and how He can use it all for our good.

We are praying that we can give up trying to have our own desires & plans which always leads to discouragement and depression (because they don't go the way we 'planned' or expected).... praying for Him to turn our heart's desires & plans to be whatever His are. To have His joy and the Shalom that comes when we are aligned with Him.

I am thankful for how He allows us to "prosper" in so many ways even throughout our suffering here. We have 'shalom' with Him and with so many friends and men & women He continually puts into our path that 'cancel out' (make up for? what's the phrase?) those who afflict & injure us.

Even economically we understand we do have "economic prosperity" -- which we now define as, "having enough wealth to accomplish God's will in your life"

We are blessed and prospering and we are suffering in many ways.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Missional Church

Great, simple explanation of "missional church". Love it!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Viola - on 'movements'

So many things can replace our Lord. But God’s eternal purpose—that which has been in his heart since before time—will never be fulfilled if our first rattle out of the box is a new way of doing church, a method for multiplying churches, or a technique to change the world. God’s purpose will only be restored if we blindly and singularly make Christ our pursuit, our life, and our motive. Everything else will flow out of that

Taken from this blog entry. Thought it was really good:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who decides what is important?

I don't seem to be in a writing season right now.... BUT I have some random thoughts that have been on my mind for a few months that I have to try to write out. I've been thinking about priorities, what we make important in our lives, in our churches, wherever .... and how crazy it is that we can distort reality so much and go years with thinking something is SOO important to only find out it isn't important at ALL except that we made it important. Yet in our own realities, it WAS truly soo important to us.... but our reality was wrong and we didn't even know it. It takes a paradigm shift to bring us to True reality.

This is true in our personal lives but I'll just use the example of this I see in churches. In my experiences the past years, it has been so eye-opening how many different aspects of "church" people make SOO important. It seems we segregate all the church is - into categories: creating a Sunday morning environment, children's ministry, outreach, worship through music, Bible study classes, whatever - and everything is so segregated in many of our church communities. Then once segregated, different 'parts' are given different values. It all gets so complicated if we let it.... and what's amazing to me is that we... simply by making a decision that something is important.... can make something important. We have that much power and free will. Scary! Even if in God's eyes it is not important --- we can make it more important in *our* lives or our community simply by saying it is so (not always in words!).

Many times it's not like we sit and make a list of what's important and then rank them -- but it happens without us even realizing. We don't keep track of where our pennies are going so before we know it our dollars are gone. We don't keep track of where our minutes are going and before we know it, the days are gone. We make our own realities that are so far from the Truth just simply by where we pour our treasures. Our time & money & gifts. The verse, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also - Matthew 6:21 really speaks to this as well. Wherever you pour your treasures... that's where your heart will be. Whether you like it or not -- wherever you put your treasures, your heart follows. A man's heart will be upon what he treasures most - what he gives the most time/resources/attention/focus.

So ultimately - the goal, I believe, is to allow God to change, mold and conform us to Him to such a point that what is important to Him, is important to us. If we allow, He will make what is most important to Him... most important to us.

It seems to me that He has made it really simple for us, This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:38 - 40. All our decisions and priorities must be filtered through these 2 commandments. Are we upholding these two above all else?

What am I making most important? What sort of reality am I living in that isn't based on Truth? What do my church or spiritual leaders make most important that is being passed on to the community?

[Regarding this example of churches..... it's just an example. I'm not saying that these components of some church communities are not right/good because they are... but when they become more important than the 2 greatest commandments...rather than support beams for them then there lies the problem. What should be talked about is the gospel message and those 2 greatest commandments constantly and when other items are talked about - the ways to the mean, they must always be talked about how they relate to the bigger picture/purpose. Nothing can be given greater importance than those 2 greatest commandments]

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2009/2010 Thoughts :)

3-4 words that describe this past year… educational, blessed, turning points

if 2009 was a book, i’d title it.... freedom isn't free

i am really glad i tried… exiting one church community & entering a new one

something that really surprised me was… how much God can change things in a year!! (or an hour!) :)

the most courageous thing i did this year was…. speak the dreams & visions God had stirred in me. kept quiet when He asked me to no matter the pain or frustration. given grace that wasn't deserved. stepped away from organizations He no longer wanted me apart of.

i tried to let go of…. pain from the past. seeking approval & validation from others. guilt.

i tried to hold on to… people being more important than any system or "thing"

i felt more hopeful about… what is possible with God.

i felt less anxious about… knowing the plan. having a plan.

a relationship i feel extra grateful for this year…. too many to count but certainly as always my family (hubby, Raymond, mom, dad, sister, brother) and then the Pratts, Caples, Minnow, Kathy, Shelby, Robles, Russ, Allens, ahhh I even feel bad listing these because there are SOO many! :)

this year, i noticed God at work in… my family. my heart. my parenting. my marriage. our community/town. our finances.

in 2010…
words i hope describe this upcoming year…. full of hope, peace, joy, fruitful

something new i really want to try… community of close relationships - thrive group - whatever you want to call it with full blown community/communication. checkin/checkout. open discussion. work on communication. commitment.

a relationship i want to pour more of my heart and time into… Raymond, Evelyn, Brandon

a way i want to take better care of myself is…exercise, communicate any postpartum feelings after baby Evelyn comes, better communication, trust in God in me.

a way i want to reach out to others is… however God will call me. Please God make it clear what you are asking of me! playdates during the week with others moms & babies. Having people into our home more.

i’d really love to experience more of God’s peace in…. my parenting - of Raymond and baby Evelyn both. the journey.

i’m going to need God’s courage to…. move forward to what He is calling us to.

this year I hope i let go of… the hurt I felt in 2009.

this year i hope i can hold on to…. hope

one dream i have for 2010 is… close community/mentors/mentorees (sharpeners) for us. new house. people with open ears/hearts so we can share what God has done in us. a ministry we feel called to pour our time & money into.

*this survey was taken from*