Friday, September 28, 2012

Always a Yes to God

Something I’m thinking about today.

A disciple is a learning, active follower. What if we lived every moment…expecting…waiting to hear the LORD. Asking the Spirit to guide, lead, and fill us. Is it so radical to actually live the way the Lord has called us to live?

Lord…make us more like You. Teach us to be You. We want to know You more. We want to say Yes to You…

“… hear me say YES! Not ‘I’m worried.’ Not ‘ I’m stressed out.’ Not ‘I’m anxious.’ Not ‘I’m too afraid.’ Hear me say thank you. Hear me say YES! Watch me live a life of Yes. To all that was and is and is to come. The power of sin and death and fear-sent-from-the-enemy are forever ended because we can trust in the bridge even if it’s caving, in God even when it’s black, in manna-nourishment even when we don’t know what it is. The God whom we thank for fulfilling the promises of the past will fulfill His promises again. In Christ, the answer to the questions of every moment is always Yes…” 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp

Choosing to spend time with Him…always the best choice. Choosing to be Christ to others…to love the unlovable…to be His hands and feet…to seek Him…to go…to move…saying Yes to God…it doesn’t guarantee easy. It doesn’t mean perfect. It is so easy for life to become crowded with stress, anxieties, questions, confusion, business…But when You look at the big picture. We are here for Him. We are His. Always a Yes. He is Worth it.

“I’m saying yes to You, and no to my desires. I’ll leave myself behind and follow You. I’ll walk the narrow road, because it leads me to You. I’ll fall but grace will pick me up again.

I’ve counted up the cost, Oh I’ve counted up the cost…And You are worth it.

I do not need safety, as much as I need You. You’re dangerous but Lord You’re beautiful. I’ll chase You through the pain, I’ll carry my cross, because real love is not afraid to bleed.

Jesus take my all, take my everything. I’ve counted up the cost and You’re worth everything.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How do you live in the ordinary when you have an extraordinary love exploding within?

Today was the first day of school. So I find myself reflecting on the months that have just passed.

I could never have dreamed or imagined a summer like the one I just lived. To an outsider it may not seem like much. I didn’t go anywhere crazy, didn’t do anything extravagant, no wild summer parties, I didn’t even make a lot of money…

But I lived. I experienced my Savior. I tasted His love. I lost myself in worship. I had raw, vulnerable, heart conversations I will never forget. I spent quality time with genuine, amazing, true friends. I have seen prayers answered. My heart was embraced by truth. I felt the crashing waves of my God’s grace. I have lived and I have grown.

And it all began with a Kiss.

I started off this summer with a disappointment, a letter saying that I hadn’t been accepted into the nursing program at college. I was [beyond] confused. I knew having an almost perfect GPA and high level test scores should have guaranteed me a spot. While I wanted to throw a temper tantrum—inside I couldn’t justify it because I felt peace. I was aware that I had started to take control of my life plans and by closing this door—God reminded me who really was in control. He said no.

The next week I spent four days on a mountaintop with incredible friends and thousands of others just worshipping. Nothing compares to unashamed worship…to lifting hands, nothing above you but stars, raising your voices with thousands of others just proclaiming that He is God. I started falling…deep…in love with my Savior. He is beautiful.

 I was undone when I came home from the trip to the mountaintop. I was so hungry for more worship…more of the word…more Jesus…I wanted to spend every waking moment learning.

The first truth I learned…He is enough.

We sing this. We say this. But when you truly start to understand and BELIEVE this? You will never be the same.

When I am lost in worship—in those moments—my heart completely becomes overwhelmed and it is easy to believe He is enough. When you grasp onto truth—your perspective, actions, thoughts—all change. To worship is to kiss God. When I heard this I sobbed for about four hours. There was nothing sad to these tears…

It makes me laugh sometimes to be around single people my age and to hear them over-spiritualize singleness saying things like, “Well I’m not looking because I know there are plenty of fish in the sea and God will bring the ‘right one’ along when I’m mature enough for a relationship”…really…let’s be real…it is hard…waiting is torture sometimes.  Who likes waiting? Who likes to be alone? For someone whose life dream is to be married and have a family…being single at this age can be really discouraging. P.s. I’m not doubting that some people really are content to be single [that is an incredible gift and I admire those people]…

But when I heard this…to worship is to kiss God…it hit...Jesus is my first kiss. We know He is enough in the big things…but to be enough in the small…in the details that are so intimate and close to the heart…ripped me open raw.

Worship has always been important to me. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t pick up my guitar and sing…but it has become so much more than just joyful noise…it is a sincere act of love between me and the One who holds my heart…We just had another night of praise and worship at our church this past weekend…singing…hands lifted high—surrendered—nothing else matters—undone…His love FOR me…it is beautiful…I lose sight of all around me…at His feet is where I belong…

I hate the moment I have to open my eyes and leave the stage. I don’t like when the lights come on and we all go to our cars and go home to the routines of life. I want to stay there.

“You are holy, great and mighty, the moon and the stars declare who You are. I’m so unworthy but still You love me…forever my heart will sing of how great You are!”—Phil Wickham Cannons

I’m so unworthy…but still He loves me. Another truth: He loves me

Growing up I saw life through a distorted lens which led to a negative view of others, me and a disappointing view of God. This heightened insecurities and anxieties…believing lies from the enemy (even though I had been taught the truth my whole life.) There was a disconnect until I really started to seek the Lord…to really dive into His word and circle His promises and His truth—all the ways that He truly does love you and me. Truth slams the door shut to the enemy.

James 4:7, The Message, “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time…”

“To You Oh Lord, I lift up my soul…none of those who wait for You will be ashamed…lead me in your TRUTH and teach me for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day…” Psalm 25:1, 3 &5

Truth: God relentlessly lavishes His love…singing countless love songs to my heart. It is impossible to escape His loving reach.

Zephaniah 3:17, “the Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing…”

“Whom have I in Heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth…My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength [rock] of my heart and my portion forever…” Psalm 73:25-26

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow [pursue; chase after] me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…” Psalm 23: 1&6

Truth: He thinks I am beautiful… Do something beautiful for God and become beautiful doing it (1 Timothy 2:11)…Again, the one time I feel truly beautiful is when I worship…[not because of anything I do]…not because of my clothes, voice, or actual appearance but because I am completely captivated by Jesus. I let go of the world around and lose myself. I feel like a little girl ready for her big date with her Dad and He makes me feel like I am truly beautiful.

Truth: He can use [even] me….He continues to pour new passions into my heart…fresh desire to love and live out His words…as my love for Him grows so does my compassion and love for people. During the camping trip with the youth group, God started opening my eyes to these new passions. I started letting go…letting go of my plans, my expectations, my goals, my fears…letting go and just truly opening up to Him. What did He want me to do with my life? I always saw helping out with the youth group as a chore...something that I had to do…but during that trip my eyes started changing and my heart started clinging onto these kids…it was the first time I actually believed that I could help in ministry for the rest of my life. I also knew God was expanding my love for song and worship.

As my passion for the Lord grows I become more and more restless. There have been moments where I’m so ready with crazy passion to go go go that I think I may explode. I have always been this way…longing to run, to make a difference, being dared to move, and yet I hear God as clear as day telling me to wait.

The words.

Hope. Wait. Patience. Faith. Trust. Be still. Long. Hunger. Commit. Obedience. Expect…Hope and wait…words that God has pounded into me daily this summer. Verses, books, devotionals, songs… all embraced these words. Everything that I have been reading…God keeps whispering the same lessons into my heart. Hope is symbolized in the Bible as an anchor. “Like an anchor holding a ship safely in position…our hope in Christ guarantees our safety…”

Hebrews 6:19-20, “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…”

In times of trial or doubt…TRUST in God because that ANCHOR holds. Hope means an assurance of God’s presence and faithfulness...a sure-confident-expectation that HE will fulfill His promises—with faith and patience—be still. Remain. Let God be the anchor and let go. Leave your hands open and trust that He is good. We are here for Him—created with a plan and purpose to bring honor and glory to His name alone.

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” Psalm 27:14

“Wait passionately for God, don’t leave the path…” Psalm 37:34 The Message

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my HOPE [expectation] is from Him” Psalm 62:5

“My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait [HOPE] for Your word. My eyes fail with longing for Your Word [Promise], while I say, ‘When will You comfort me?’…You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait [HOPE] for Your Word…” Psalm 119:81-82 & 114

“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I HOPE. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning…hope in the Lord” Psalm 130:5-6

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us…as we have HOPED in You...“ Psalm 33:20-22

“Rest [Be still] in the Lord and wait patiently [longingly] for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes…” Psalm 37:7

“You are everything You promised…Your faithfulness is true…Waiting here for You” –Christy Nockels, Waiting Here for You

There are so many things I think I’m ready for, so many steps I want to take but I’m waiting…trusting in His timing and His hand. He has a plan and purpose for my life [Psalm 138:8]…

The Friends.

I heard someone say once that they were allergic to small talk. This is me. Part of it is a self-conscience thing because I’m not comfortable talking about the weather or your new pair of shoes. Surface talk has its time and place I suppose…but what I really love is having conversations that matter…the ones that you remember and replay in your head. I want to dive deep. Let’s get to the point…say what is really on your mind or heart. I’m confident when I talk about my heart or my walk with Jesus because you can’t be anything but honest…there are no wrong answers…God has placed some of the best people in my life. People to laugh with [people who pretend to enjoy my creative and hilarious jokes], eat with [lots of chips and salsa, buckets of French fries, burritos, milkshakes], play games with, have movie marathons with…and at the same time…this same group goes deep…we have raw, vulnerable, hard, heart conversations, we can cry, we can share the hard and ugly moments, we can be broken, we can be real. We can talk about the Lord and shout out worship together because Christ is in the center…and He brought us all together when we needed each other most. I'm beyond thankful for the friendships.

An Ocean of Grace

One of our last church services of the summer is on the beach. Even as a little girl this was my absolute favorite service of the year. We sing and have the sermon on the boardwalk…then as a congregation we all march down to the water for baptisms. I was baptized when I was 7 but I knew it didn’t mean anything to me. It was more of an act to please my earthly parents than for me to please my Heavenly Father. I had to get baptized. Out of nowhere God gave me courage…I knew it would be a huge leap in our relationship…and I was beyond ready to dive in…

Before getting baptized we are asked to share our story. This is something I was nervous about. It was the second time that God had asked me to share this summer. I was nervous that I would be so emotional, then break into tears and not be able to make any sense.

 The worship band, Jesus Culture has a song, Your Love Never Fails, both times that I have shared my testimony—this song has played through my mind. Through my life I can say that even when there has been hard, ugly, or pain—joy has come in the morning…Nothing can separate us from His love…He makes all things work together for our good…It comes from Romans 8. The Lord is such a friend…He pointed me back to Romans 8 from three different sources the day before I got baptized…

“The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus HAS SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death…For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’…we are children of God…And we know that God causes all things to work together for good [that which makes us more like Christ] to those who are called according to his purpose…” Romans 8  

Nothing can separate us from His everlasting love or truth!! We are never out of His loving reach.

That morning was amazing. Oh the beach—it is where I told God I first wanted to follow Him, spent hours upon hours digging in His word, seeking Him, the hardest conversations between me and God have been on the beach, my prayer spot, where I first shared my story with friends, some of the most intimate worship has been on the beach…and it is where I was baptized in the crashing waves…the line “If grace is an ocean we are all sinking” took on a whole new meaning that morning…completely overwhelmed with joy…and “peace beyond comprehension”

“The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds IN Christ Jesus…” Philippians 4:7

After the service, people all went their separate ways but I was ready to jump…run…scream from the mountain tops to all the masses that He is God!! I was dipped into the rough waves—dying to my old self—rising again with Christ—a new creation!—Ready to live.

How do you live in the ordinary when you have an extraordinary love exploding within?

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that He didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” –Francis Chan

I know God has me here [waiting] for this season. I pray that while I am here I wouldn’t lose this fire or passion that is rising up inside but that it would only continue to grow. There are lost, hurting, and broken people right here that need to know the love of our Savior. I pray we would all grasp, cling, and hunger for His word and tell the world the truth…of this love that never fails.

Thank you Lord…for an incredible summer of sweet memories all surrounded around You…for a group of heart friends who encourage…for grace pouring over me…I am blown away by Your love for me…for saving me…for breaking and ripping me open raw only to mold me back together—shaping me into the woman You always created me to be…I am a work in progress [for.sure]….but Lord You have my heart and I don’t want to just sit here. I want to be making a difference—loving You and others with all that I have and all that I am. I want to be running hard after You until I can no longer run…then I’ll walk…then I’ll crawl. I don’t ever want to get to a place where I am stuck—not growing—just going through the motions. More of You Lord...less of me. Help me to seek and choose You--daily.

Forever I want my life to sing…”My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord…for He has done great things for me…”“I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving” Psalm 69:30