11.30.2012

25 Days Of Fasting


“Do you love those who don’t know Jesus?”

Simple words spoken at a camp that began the process of a heart rocking journey.

Before I didn't even care for those who are commonly known as “the lost”.

Side note: I dislike that term. I think we need to start seeing people as people. We can love them regardless because that's what Christ does. We can see them as people we care for and share Christ with. Not little “missions” we can try and “fix”. We should see them as He does. Not as “those evil people” but rather as hurting children who need to know their Abba and He so graciously has allowed us who do know Him to be a part of the process of helping others come to know Him.

Rant over.**

I’ve been seriously praying for months now ever since I heard that speaker talking about loving those who don’t know Jesus (as well as those who do). I’ve been praying for those that don’t know Him to come to know Him. Praying that He would allow me to share Him with them and I’ve been praying for a genuine love for them.

As I’ve gone through this, the Lord has given me names and faces for those people. They aren't just a group anymore. They have lives. They have passions and dreams and pursuits. They have hearts that aren’t as ugly as you might think (though stained with sin), but they are lacking love and life in the Eternal Lover and Life Giver.

I do love them. A lot. Which is why I’m very careful as to how I approach them in regards to the Gospel. This love compels me to take into account their feelings. I’m not ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) at all. I’ll shout it from the rooftops (or talk about it in Walmart 'cause y'all I don't have a good roof to shout from. ;) ).

We need followers of Jesus who love others so much that they are bound by that love- His love- to share this Jesus with others at whatever means necessary. No matter what it looks like. No matter if it's not the "conventional" way.

To listen to the elderly woman who is known to be a bit crazy, but only because she’s been alone for so long.

To hug the man who lost his wife and doesn’t know where to turn now.

To speak encouragement to the woman whose son killed himself after a particularly hard weekend.

That's the Gospel in real life.

I can quote Scripture at them. I can share the Gospel with them over and over, but none of this matters if it’s not done in love. His love. Not mine. My love is feeble and has conditions. His love is beautiful and matchless and endless. I’ll do it in His love, not mine. I'll be His hands and feet and love these people the way they need to be loved- even if they don't know what love is yet... or rather Who Love is yet.

So starting tomorrow I’m going to be fasting and praying for these lovely people who don’t know Him. Some I’ll pray for by name, but some I don’t know so I’ll just pray for them in general. I’ll be praying for those in this country and outside of it. Everyone needs Him.

Will you join me? This page is where you can link up, converse about what the Lord does for the next 25 days, and share any prayer requests for those you know that don’t have a relationship with Christ.

Let us love in Him and through Him.

**My view has changed a bit. Learn more about that here.

11.28.2012

Heart Work

I found myself in my room with a pen, my journal, and a devotional that I had neglected to do for many months because I didn't think it was "my style".

I was tired. It had been a long day (and it had only just started... like literally. It was barely noon). But those long days always bring me to my Lord and so I sat down with this devotional and a heavy heart and began.

It talks about marriage and dating and being the kind of woman GOD wants you to be.

Those are all things I like talking about from time to time, but that last part has my heart.

Oh to be the kind of woman He wants me to be! The very thought makes my heart soar and knowing it will come about (eventually) gives me peace. (See Philippians 1:6)

But sometimes work is involved.

Sometimes He tells me that there is a step I need to take and if I don't take it, I will miss again that life He has created me to live.

So, I took the first step.

I was honest.

I poured my heart out to Him for about 30 minutes and when I was done, I felt different.

I felt more joy and more peace and it was as if the Father Himself said, "Daughter, it's gonna be alright. I'm with you. We'll work through this together. Thank you for finally being honest with Me."

So the heart work has begun. It's painful and good. Two words I wouldn't normally put together, but with God all the pain He allows has a purpose and His purposes are gooood.

The refining is happening. I suppose it's been happening for a while, but this time Abba has graciously allowed me to be able to see some of it happening... and it's beautiful.

Honesty opens doors with people. In the same way, honesty opens doors with God. When you actually voice what you're feeling, thinking, doing, or believing (yes, He already knows, but that doesn't mean He doesn't want to hear it from you.) the chains begin to be broken. The yokes are taken off. And underneath all of that is His hand gently pulling away the lies. The brokenness. The pain. The anger.

He is renewing you and replacing the bad and ugly with His good and beauty. Open up. It's scary, but He knows you better than you know yourself, so no worries. Trust and obey. Take the first step. Praying for you as you do.

11.26.2012

Risk and Failure - Monday Reflections

Risk.

Sometimes I really don't like that word. I don't like thinking about it, much less doing it.

Risk is scary. Risk will make you uncomfortable. Risk will also turn your world upside down.

I’m a huge believer that God didn’t create us to live in comfortable bubbles all our lives. He created us to love Him and others deeply, freely, and passionately. That kind of love (the kind He loves us with) always involves risk... and failure.

Failure and risk go hand in hand.

I fail constantly. I should be at peace with this considering I’ve failed every single day of my life, right? But I’m not. I think it’s a good and a bad thing.

Bad thing because I’m never satisfied with the place that God has me in; the season He’s shaping me through. Good thing because I’m not satisfied with where I’m at so I’m constantly striving to be better and to continue moving- not stay in the same comfortable place forever.

I think the enemy really likes for us to live in the past. Especially our past failures. If he can get you to look back at that past failed relationship, that failed test, that failed _____________ (fill in the blank), then you’ll most likely begin obsessing over it and not focusing on where the Lord has you now and what He’s doing in you now.

You'll stop taking risks because you fear things not working out and being left on the ground in a puddle of broken hopes and dreams.

I’v been there for far too long. Constantly looking to myself for success when Jesus is my success.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 rocked my world when I read it for what seemed like the first time a few nights ago...

“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” (NKJV) 

Yes, yes, yes! I love that! HE is our sufficiency. We aren’t, He is.

He has freed you. He has made you new. HE did that. Not you, not me. Our part is to accept His grace and live in it.

That’s a risk.

People will judge you, people will dislike you, you might even lose a few friendships over Him, but you must decide if the Lord is worth that to you. Is God worth the risk and failure that comes with following Him?

Are you living in His grace or in your past? You have a choice over which one you want to live in. Don't let the pain from past failures keep you from walking in His grace and love. You can do ALL things through Him.

Side note: I have exciting news! If you’re interested in doing a 25 day fast to pray for the lost in December come over to this page and like it and join in! Bloggers: feel free to link up and invite others to do so also! Would love to celebrate Christ’s birthday with a new brother or sister in Christ!! <3

11.20.2012

When God Said No

I have cried many tears over this.

Tears because I want to do it so badly and tears because I wanted God to answer my prayer.

But God told me no.

He said no... at least for now. And now I’m left to try and get over this.

He knows. He understands.

My heart is broken.

I was perfectly ready to pack up my bags with little to no money, let Him provide for me, share the Gospel with people who have never heard of Him and see the work of God in remote places.

I was ready.

Why would God tell me no? Why would He not show me an opportunity for this thing I desire so greatly and instead point me in a different direction?

I don’t know. I don’t fully understand.

But I know it’s for His glory and my good and so I’m trusting that if He’s lead me to something different then He’s gonna do awesome things in this too.

I still have fantasies about holding sweet babies in Africa. Of sharing the Gospel with people who have beautiful brown skin and perfect black hair. Slowly, but surely I’m handing these too, over to my Lord and knowing that this next year will be a different adventure, one I didn’t plan, but one that He will work in as He has in each year I’ve lived thus far.

Thank You, Lord, for Your strength, healing, and peace in the midst of confusion and heartache. You are good.

11.19.2012

Prepare The Way - Monday Reflections

"We prepare the way for You, Lord."

The worship leader said those words and I stopped.

Are we really?

More personal... am I?

I prepared a lot of things last week but the way for the Lord is probably not one of those things.

I prepared myself for going out to venture the world, I prepared my heart for the potential letdowns I'd receive, but I never really focus on preparing the way for Christ.

But that’s what John did, didn’t he?

“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” - Mark 1:1-4

John was a beast. He wasn’t concerned with himself, he was concerned with preparing the way for the One whose sandals none of us are worthy to untie (John 1:27).

I'm not like him.

I’m far too distracted with myself.

Myself. The idol.

I want to worship this God I love, this God who loves me, yet I can't stop looking at myself long enough to do that.

Even now, I’m desiring so much to prepare the way for Him, but I don’t even know where to start.

So, I’ll start with prayer. The Word says that we can do NOTHING apart from Him (John 15:5) which means that no matter how strong the desire, I will never, ever, be able to prepare the way for my Lord without Him.

My prayer for myself and for y’all today is that we’ll look to Him for all things. Everything we have on this earth is a gift. We can use those gifts to point to the Lord. We can also use those gifts to remind people that the need to repent is now (Matthew 3:1-2). Jesus is coming back and I want Him to find us preparing the way for His return. What about you?

Jesus, flip our hearts. We want to be like You in every way. Sometimes we wish we could do it on our own. Then, we would have “control” and not fear, right? No. I think we’d still fear. But fear is not of You and neither is that kind of attitude. God, change us. I pray this over and over. God, please change us. We need You to bring about change in our lives because we can never do it. I want You to change me. Help us surrender to You daily. Let us prepare the way for You, O Lord. Kill our flesh. Amen.

Are you preparing the way for Christ? Are you calling Him ‘Lord’, but refusing to let Him have complete control? Reflect on these questions today and let Him reveal your heart to you.

11.16.2012

Spark (Book review)

I’ve read a lot of books.

I mean I’m a writer, book reading is kinda what makes my “job” easier (and better).

Spark by Jason Jaggard is at the top of my list for favorite books of 2012. Not too many can top it.

When I first saw the book, I read the back and thought, Huh. That sounds like it would be pretty good.

Pretty good was an understatement.

To me a good formula for a book is this...
  • it has to have stories and lots of them to keep me interested.
  • it needs to have Scripture (can’t go wrong with Truth being all up in it!).
  • it needs to push me towards being a better version of myself for the glory of God.

This book has all three of those things.

“Our will- the most sacred part of who we are- cannot be trained by information. It can be trained only by the choices we make. Who you are at your core is most powerfully impacted not by reading these words, but by making different choices after you read these words.” pg. 70
Jason talks a lot about taking risks and what sparks those risks.

He talks about life change and where it needs to start- by doing something.

He doesn’t like coffee (which makes me feel a little less weird ^_^ ) and he has a passion for seeing people get up and go in the name of Christ and take risks on a daily basis.

“Good is a force. It is not tame; it will tear through you like a freight train and rip your arm sockets off if you try to grab hold of it while standing still. That’s why you gotta run to get on the Good Train.” pg. 90

I’ve been challenged every day since I’ve read this book. I find myself actually looking for risks I can take... and taking them. Weird, right?

You may not read many books, but if you’re looking for something filled with ideas, passion, heart, and straight up real talk then you’ll like this.

I tried to think of something to say that I didn’t like or agree with while reading this book, but I can’t (sorry this is gonna be another one of “those” reviews. :P ).

If you’re wondering whether to get this book or not I say go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose really and it’s definitely a risk worth taking. Too cheesy? Don’t care!

Note: this book was given to me by WaterBrook Multnomah publishing company for reviewing purposes.

11.15.2012

Naked.

Y'all, I feel naked today.

I'm squirming and moving trying to make sure no one gets a good look at me because I've been struggling.

Satan has attacked me so much lately. I know I should see that as a good thing because he wouldn't attack someone who was worthless... but I don't see it as a good thing.

I hate it.

Every minute of it. He's such a punk. I can do all things through Christ.

I know this. It's truth. I know.

Yet when it comes time for battle I do the dumbest thing I possibly could do and rely on my own strength. My self.

I fail every freaking time.

Is that so hard to get through my head? That alone I can do NOTHING?!

Apparently the answer is yes.

Pride, pride, pride.

I don't like sharing my struggles. I don't like being "that" Christian that everyone views as weak.

I always need prayer.
I am always struggling with something.
I can cry at the drop of a hat.
Sin is always crouching at my door.
If I go one second without committing my thoughts to Christ, I will fall into sin.

Naked. Struggles.

Yet I don't hope or boast in these things. I hope and boast in Christ who knows these struggles and sees them and still loves me. He still pursues me and woos me and seeks after me and changes me.

Oh, sweet Jesus, thank You!!

I read a quote earlier that said, "Don't compare yourself to other Christians. Compare yourself to Christ, He's the One you're following."

That's what happens to me.

I compare myself to others who are "better" Christians. More faithful. More loving. More caring. And I forget His finished work on the Cross. I forget how He walked and I forget that He's transforming me into His image. Not anyone elses.

So it's November and everyone is talking about giving thanks. I give thanks for many reasons today but here's a few...

He's not finished with me yet.
My flaws can be used for His glory.
I serve a Savior who will never grow tired of me, never leave me, and who offers new life daily simply stating, "Come and die. Follow Me."

I will, Lord. I'm Yours.

11.14.2012

Seeing the Pain & Sharing the Gospel

I think some Christians like to be happy at the cost of ignoring the needs of others.

I know this because that's what I've done for years.

Of course I didn't put it that way in my mind.

No. I told myself that I was "focusing on God", attempting to justify the feelings of guilt that would well up ever so often.

I can't ignore people's pain anymore.

I absolutely cannot.

I prayed over and over months ago that God would break my heart for what breaks His. I prayed for Him to help me love like He does. I prayed for the apathy I've seen for so long in my life to be broken and for Him to replace it with a care for His children.

He is answering all those prayers and thus, I must act.

You can't care about someone and then never help them, can you? Can you love someone truly and then look past their mess, not even attempting to help them (even if they got themselves into it)?

You can't force a person to take your help (at least I wouldn't recommend that). You can, however, show them you care enough to offer.

Seeing people's pain and sharing the Gospel go hand in hand.

If you know someone is sick and you did a home remedy from Pinterest (holla!) that rocked your world and helped you get over being sick, you'd share it, right?

So why is it, Christians, that when we see someone suffering and know they don't know Jesus we choose to give in to fear (which is not of God) and ignore their pain to protect ours?

I want to cry knowing how much I've done that.

Right now I'm all about taking risks for the glory of God. It's a goooood thing, but it's hard.
Note: if you want to know what sparked my risk taking come back Friday for a book review. ;)

Last night I had a conversation I was so scared to have. But God said, "It's time." and He gave me some of the words I'd been afraid to utter. Of course, the conversation didn't go like it did in my head (they never do), but it was good. It was a starting point.

So here's my challenge.
Today, if you see someone who looks like they're going through some difficulties, instead of just looking the other way, engage them. Talk to them. Offer to pray for them. Don't force anything, just let the Holy Spirit move. Sometimes sharing the Gospel happens in the first conversation with a person and sometimes you have several conversations before the door is fully open. Trust God and obey. It's hard, but love is hard- doesn't mean you shouldn't do it.

You have the remedy. Now go and share it.

11.13.2012

Division Breaks My Heart (and His)

“How are you doing today?”

So that question gets asked more than any other question on a regular basis I’m sure.

I usually reply honestly. Today was no different.

“I’m doing pretty great... how about you?”

Then I got this response,

“Honestly? Honestly I’m disgusted.”

And so the conversation started. My heart broke a little more with each word spoken from my dear friend and brother in Christ as he told me he and his wife had been abused and neglected in the church.

Oh, he didn’t use those words. No, he didn’t even make a big deal out of it really.

But it’s a big deal.

It’s a big deal to me because I believe it’s a big deal with God.

These issues don’t go unnoticed from our Father’s eyes. He sees each one and I believe that especially when there is division among His children it breaks His heart greatly.

It breaks my heart greatly. I thank God for that actually (means I’m becoming a little more like Jesus). But I’m not thankful for the division in the body of Christ.

I’ve cried many times over this issue and several times for these believers I love so greatly.

Church, we shouldn’t be hurting, excluding, or hating. We should be loving. Loving Jesus and loving others.

You think that sounds lame or crazy maybe, but I believe life is truly simple and while that doesn’t equate easy, it does make living it a bit easier. Knowing that all those complications we think are there, really aren’t.

Love God. Honor God. Love people.

What’s complicated about that?

I have no words on how to resolve every issue in the church (only God has that wisdom and whoever He so chooses to reveal it to), but on the issue of division I think the simple answer is this: get on your face, beg God to help you love every single person He does (go figure... that means everybody!) and then do it.

Trust and obey.

11.12.2012

Why Rejection Is A Good Thing - Monday Reflections

I never in my whole entire life thought that the title for this post would be written and I would agree with it.

But I do.

Why? Because rejection leads me to the Father.

I got rejected the other day. Not to the point that it ruined me or a friendship, just that I had plans and they fell through because the other person chose something they wanted to do more.

At first, I wanted to cry. Then, I wanted to yell and tell God how much I was not loving this person right now.

Instead, I wrote the title of this blog and let the Lord work in me.

Every time in my life that I've been rejected it has led me back into His arms.

The time I lost a friend because they were angry and upset with everything life was giving them.

Back in His arms.

The time I was called out over a situation I literally had no control over.

Crying at His feet.

There's many times I've dealt with rejection and each time it's led me into a deeper love for my Father.

Wanna know why? Because God didn't have to choose me.

He didn't have to choose to love me, speak beautiful words to me, overwhelm me with His heart or anything at all. He's the Creator of the whole entire universe! I've failed Him so many times. I've told Him I wouldn't do something and then moments later I did that very thing. Why would He want to love me? Either way, He does. Thank God for that.

I've learned two things from being rejected.

1. God may allow it just to get my attention back on Him.

2. His unconditional love is a perfect example that though we may be rejected by others, through Him we can still love them.

Have you been rejected before? Wanna share your story? What did the Lord teach you through that time?

11.10.2012

Sick.

I’m sick.

Not physically. Spiritually and emotionally.

The past week and a half has been spent bowing down to a false god- an idol.

Myself.

I was so selfish and focused on Tara. What she wants, what she’s struggling with, what her goals are. Never once did I seek His wants, what stirs His heart, His goals.

I want His will to be done through my life.

I’m sick of sitting around and waiting. Of being afraid to obey this God I serve.

I came across a verse in Scripture the other day and the words “Do not be afraid, I am with you.” came up on me. It looked ridiculous to me. I stared at that part of the verse for a few moments and tears started to come to the surface.

How many times have I heard Him tell me those words and have refused, have freaking chosen not to believe them?

I repent.

If Christians believed even a tenth of what the Bible says our lives would look drastically different.
Our churches would look drastically different.
The people we see daily, our interactions with them would look drastically different.

And I’m struck with this conviction from the Holy Spirit and this passion as well, that I want so badly to be radically different, radically changed.

I want to not wait for a mission trip to come around to specifically share the Gospel with a person.

If we could see the pain they feel daily and where these people are headed maybe then we’d open our mouths and speak His words.

Maybe we’d care.

I’m sick of apathy. Oh God, forgive me for this. All of it.

I’m praying for change. I’m praying for passion. I’m praying for His glory to be my goal and I’m praying for this apathy and laziness to flee in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.

Because at the end of my life I want to hear Him say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

To hear Him call me His good and faithful servant... those are the sweetest words I could ever hear.

11.08.2012

Safe

Allison wrote this and now I’m challenged to let y’all in on my little secret.

I like to play it safe around people.

If you read Ally’s post (by the way, you should go read all her posts because they are super real and sista friend (if you’re not a girl I apologize for that ;) real is what we need) then you read about how she stands with her back to the wall with a plate of food or a drink in her hand the entire time at a party.

That’s me... all the time.

Yeah, I know, it’s sad, but y’all that’s what I do.

I stand with my back to a wall, something in my hands, and I observe everything around me.

Sometimes it’s a good thing. I get to see how people react to things, what they’re passionate about, what they find funny, etc. Other times it’s somewhat disastrous because I live in fear that someone is going to ask me something and I’ll give my opinion and then they are going to disagree and hate me forever.

See I don’t believe that they are wrong and maybe I’m right (for once :P ).

I believe I’m wrong. All the time.

Insecure, not confident girls are “unattractive” (or so I’ve been told), but I’m one of those girls.

I’m safe.

Safe with everything and everyone. I’m safe with my words, my thoughts, my opinions, and my interactions... all to avoid the pain.

Loving and living both cause pain and a lot of it.

I don’t do too well with emotional pain.

I can break my arm or leg or bust my head open (which has happened by the way) and be perfectly fine. I can suffer heartbreak and be down for a long while.

I don’t want to be safe anymore.

There’s a song by Jimmy Needham called ‘Hurricane’ and one of the lines in it is “I don’t wanna be safe tonight”. That’s me right now. That’s my prayer.

I don’t wanna be safe in living or loving.
I don’t wanna be safe when sharing the Gospel.
I don’t wanna be safe.
I want reckless abandonment to Jesus and not safe, Christian bubbles anymore.

Are you living safe? Why? If God is for us, who can be against? (Romans 8:31)