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Monday, May 6, 2013

Skin is NOT in

Now I lay me down to sleep.... We can all finish that prayer. From very early on we learn as kids to pray for God to protect us, to bless our food and to help us in times of trouble. I am learning so much about prayer. Expectancy really comes from the depths of our faith. When we have little faith we also expect very little. When I pray for protection and then live in constant fear I am saying God this prayer is my daily ritual to you and my words are simply empty. I have walked in doubt before to the point of questioning Gods sovereignty in my life and because of that I may never know what could have happened if I would have just obeyed and walked in the promise of His yes and not the doubts and "concerns" of others.
In 2 Samuel 10:1-4 David is extending kindness regarding the death of Hanun's father. This is a simple act of kindness right? I mean when people die we go to the visitation to show the family support, if your baptist you send food and if your David you send your servants to offer condolences. This next part really allows me to see how important it is for me to surround myself with people who aren't quick to speak but are quick to seek God on my behalf. I use to jump and say yes to everything and everyone and after experiencing exhaustion, loneliness and defeat I am now learning to shift my "yes sure I can" to pressing into just Jesus and from that I am finding freedom from the bondage of what everyone expects from me. In verse 3 it says this "the ammonite nobles said Hanun their lord, "do you think David is honoring your father by sending men to you express sympathy?" 4 So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away." Oh my word!! I blushed for those poor men. Look how quickly things got out of hand simply because of the doubts and fear of humiliation those nobles placed in Hunan's head. In a world where "skin is in" this may be extremely hard for us to understand. Imagine with me if you will this scene where skin was not in and modesty most definitely was. Even in the new testament the pharisees clothed themselves with clothing that represented their holiness. They wore tassels that brushed the top of their feet to remind them of their deep commitment to God but the depth of their rule following also kept them from seeing the truth of who Jesus was. These nobles not only exposed those poor servants backsides they brought war on and over 40,000 died because of their empty and paranoid words. We have to seek God first in every single decision we make. The effects of our decisions will not only determine who sees Jesus clearly but also just how deep our faith is. If we offer up empty words or shallow prayers that usually reflects how shallow our faith is and sadly those are the steps we begin to take. It's time to change your thoughts " if I just pray then God will." Yes He provides and yes he heals He is the Great I AM! However He has also gifted you and equipped you to carry out the purpose He has for your life. Those steps often require blind faith. That means seeing nothing and just going for it. Today what is it that your so afraid of? God has called each of us out of darkness, redeemed us in order to carry out His perfect will. You have to trust that He is bigger than the insecurities that haunt you. Your insecurities give birth to weaknesses and before you know it you feel so far from becoming who you know you are called to be. We hide behind religious duties and allow other people to speak untruths to us. Your life is marked by choices and the words we speak or do not speak. That voice speaking to you even now telling you to pick up a pen to write, chase that dream that is within reach, surrendering and letting go of unforgiveness. There is so many words we can choose today and just like those nobles changed the course of history by causing bloodshed in war your words also carry so much weight. Maybe it's time you and I fell to our knees or even positioned ourselves before the throne with new words of surrender. I believe that God sees the posture of our hearts and bodies and delights in it.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (Philippians 2:9, 10 ESV)

His name should stir emotions and bring us to a place of constant worship and surrender. When we are faced with tragedy and pain it's in us to fall to our knees. What if we chose to get down on our knees with a heart fully abandoned to our ways and yet fully surrendered to His plans. Guilt and shame only comes from the enemy. It's time to move in the direction of Gods redeeming love. Let His words transform your thoughts and the way you view your circumstances. The season you are in is not by mistake even if someone else caused you to be there. God hears you and wants to carry that pain. Lets bow before Him with arms stretched out wide and hearts positioned as we lay every joyful thought and heart wrenching pain before Him and wait with expectation for change.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Don't just sit and watch-

Luke 5:17-26

17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

Verse 20 says that Jesus SAW their faith. In order for Jesus to SEE their faith they had to be DOING something. We seem to be ok with just watching miracles and dreams come true for other people's lives and only daydream about God doing incredible things in our lives. I don’t want to watch I want to ENCOUNTER IT! When Jesus healed Him it says in verse 25 IMMEDIATELY he stood and WENT. When Jesus did a work in his life it didn’t say he got up and stood around watching, NO HE MOVED and began his journey back home praising God. I thought about all the people He ran into along the way. Did he keep quiet as he scurried home as a healed man?? Absolutely not. Despite the obstacles surrounding him he was persistent because he needed to see Jesus. We allow so many obstacles to stand in our way of encountering Jesus. Man made traditions which is often legalism, the dirtiness of our past, our fears and the list could go on. For this man it was the crowd. People were standing around watching, and the Pharisees were ready for Jesus to mess up so they really had no real interest in encountering Jesus for themselves but these men were so persistent they had to get pass the crowd to just see Jesus! There is an old song by Barlow Girl that says "and I’ll stop this pretending that I can somehow deserve what I already have “. I know so many people who are ok with how their lives and have adapted to their circumstances. They go to work, they go to games and attend church weekly and yet they have no passion for JESUS and all the while question God's plan. I have been in that place myself and it was boring unfulfilling and got me no where. Where is your dream? Where is your gifting? I truly believe God can and will use you in the middle of your circumstances. If you think about it did Jesus really rock my world for me to sit back and watch? In 1 John 3:1 it says this " SEE what great love the Father has lavished on us that would be children of God!" The word lavish means, mark by excess more than a specific amount. You have been shown such lavish love and such an excess amount of grace how could we ever be silent.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

keep your eyes open to who you might meet or what you might eat

I was in Target yesterday afternoon with Rachel and an older man approached me.  I had no make up on, my hair was on top of my head and I was doing the whole “Please Lord don’t let anyone see me” prayer in my head.  I was on the nail polish isle and here he came. His shirt was tucked in, his nails were nicely groomed, he was clean and wore a hat. He was at least 75 years old maybe even older and he spoke in such a gentle voice. He asked me if the shirt I was wearing was the church in the YMCA and I said why yes it is. He proceeded to tell me a joke regarding Baptist and I laughed and introduced myself to him.  His eyes were inviting and He began to tell me how he loved talking to people. At least 15 minutes past by and during that time I just listened to all his wisdom. I walked off from him smiling and wishing that I knew him.   I went in that place praying I wouldn’t see anyone I knew and then I left wishing I knew that sweet stranger.   God seems to connect the dots within our lives and in moments when we need that word of encouragement or that push to move in a certain direction. He also knows who we need in our lives in order for dreams to unfold and passions to be ignited. The people who surround you and I are not there by mistake.  God uses His hands and feet which ultimately means you and me to accomplish great and mighty things in His name.  The people who are currently surrounding you NEED you. They need to be lifted up and they need to hear a simple thank you and they need to hear truth. When you think about the concept of dying to yourself daily it can bring about some pretty uncomfortable thoughts especially if you are use to getting your way.  This week I asked Richard to go to lunch and instead of us meeting halfway he decided to come all the way to Gastonia.  Because he sacrificed 30 extra minutes of his time driving here I chose his favorite Chinese buffet (name shall remain anonymous) to show a little sacrificial love myself.  When I picked up a piece of my sushi I looked down and a mini yet ginormous scorpion type creature (bug) walked across my plate. We immediately got up and left.  They gave me my meal for free (how nice).  I lost my appetite however Richard declared “we will never eat here again” and so that sacrifice I made paid off.  I started thinking about that sweet man in Target and how I was so drawn to him and yet that BIG ugly bug in my plate made me get the heck out of dodge.  That sweet man had no agenda other than encouraging me.  That bug on the other hand acted as if somehow I was ok with it walking all across my food items.  We often push our own agendas and preferences and selfishness into our friend circles, the church body and even into our relationships and marriages.  The hurtful words, unrealistic expectations and pride will only drive wedges between you and the people you are surrounded by as well as keep you from moving forward.  We choose daily to respond to people with love or without love. When we are in a hurry most people don’t get the loving side of us lets be honest.  I am guilty of not trying to make eye contact and hurry in & out of stores. The Target incident stopped me in my tracks because I needed to talk to that sweet man because in that moment I needed to be encouraged without even knowing it.  Galatians 6:10 says this “Therefore, as we have opportunity let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”   I understand that dying to myself means I no longer get a say in how things unfold.  I am called to love, to serve and seek out people within the body of believers to love on and to lift up just like that sweet man sought me out in the middle of a store.  When non believers see this love they will be drawn in with such intensity because they will see the love of Christ played out simple, pure and untouched by the selfishness that likes to creep in.  Keep your eyes open someone needs you today.