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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a burning bush told me just the other day...

The Story about Moses and the burning bush is one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament. I am such a visual learner and I like to insert myself into the story imagining what it must have looked like on that mountain, or how Moses felt when God revealed Himself through a bush.  God uses whatever it takes to get our attention and sometimes we see Him in the rainbows that follow downpours, or sunsets or sunrises over mountains and beaches but when our circumstances are out of control we begin to grasp on to whatever it is that will make us feel better. For some its addictions, for some its the comfort of remaining where you are. For others it may be the fear of whatever it is you know you are called to do and because you feel that pressure you let go of that life long dream. After reading this passage of scripture I pulled out 4 things that I want to share with you.

Exodus 3: 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God

1. God Positioned Moses in the midst of Chaos
Moses was centered in the middle of what I am sure felt like complete chaos. Keeping a flock of sheep together, making sure they were being protected because they weren't his sheep. They were his father in law's and that had to add even more pressure of doing a good job.  Isn't that a lot like our own lives. We may not have a bunch of sheep but we have busy lives, financial stress, tons of work among other pressures that bring chaos into our lives. Just like God strategically placed Moses on that mountain  I have to remind myself that the chaos that surrounds me isn't by mistake whether brought on by myself or by someone else. God will use that chaos to draw me in and I just have to be ready to respond.

2. God got his attention where he was.
There are days where I can hear God's voice loudly and there are days I am desperate for even a whisper. I look at Moses and in the middle of that chaos God chose to use a burning bush to get his attention. It wasn't in bible study, or in the temple or on his knees worshiping it was on the side of the mountain with a bunch of sheep.  I believe we miss so many opportunities meeting with God because we try and manipulate the very hand of God reducing His presence to Sundays or in small group time. God wants our attention at all times.  I thought to myself I wonder if Jethro his father in law would have ran if he had seen a fire taking place especially with all his sheep around.  Moses was intrigued and the angel of the Lord spoke.

3. Moses turned away from the chaos to see God.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared it said that Moses saw that the bush was not being consumed so he went over there and when the Lord saw that Moses had gone to look He called out to him. This gave me chills. I have spent so much time in the past trying to see God, hear His voice and yet my eyes and heart never left the chaos of my circumstance. Moses turned away from those sheep to lock eyes on this burning bush.  God saw Him and it wasn't the angel who called out to Him but it was God himself. Don't we long to hear our names being called out of where we are. Out of a job, out of a relationship, our out of financial ruin? God wants you to shift your eyes away from the Chaos and on to Him. 

4. Reverence happened
Reverence is defined; honor, respect that is felt or shown to someone or something. (Webster)
When God called out to Moses and he responded God asked him to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. He showed reverence to a very holy God by taking off  his shoes. As I began to let that sink in I realized that just like Moses had to take something off to stand in the presence of God we are also called to holiness not perfection.  Our marriages are holy grounds and our attitudes, apathy and the way we choose to treat our spouses can be things that need to come off so we can gain a deeper intimacy with them.  Our friendships, work places, ministries, dreams, school and on an on are also areas that represents holy ground in our lives. Our response to those areas are how we seek out the holiness of God and His power is made known to those around us.  They see Jesus simply because you chose to remove something to gain a clearer picture of who God is.

In the Old Testament God's presence was in places like the temple or the ark of the covenant and when Jesus came that access to God's presence opened up a deeper level of intimacy with Him. As you stand in the middle of your chaos today what represents your sandals? What needs to come off in order for you to see God in a new way. I told you I like to insert myself into scripture because for someone reason it makes it more real to me.  I want to challenge you to do the same thing with this ...

When the Lord saw that HOLLY had gone over to look, God called to her from within the bush, “HOLLY! HOLLY!”
And  Holly said, “Here I am.”
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your __FEAR_____, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

What would you insert? Pride? Sexual sin? Apathy? Disobedience? Fear? Insecurity?

Remember we serve a God that makes all things NEW and He will draw you into His presence in the craziest ways so keep your eyes open and be ready to SEE God in your own burning bush moment.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My backyard is like a symphony

The grass is green. The trees sway in tune to the breeze. Birds hop from branch to branch chirping with such intensity as they gather twigs to maintain or build their nest.  A squirrel comes on the scene running down the tree on high alert. He jumps into the next tree and then goes out on to the power line. He moves slowly across then stands and listens to what's ahead in the tree in front of him and it felt like he counted to 10 and then leaped forward.  As I sat in my car with the door open soaking up the gorgeous morning sunshine it hit me. I was still and alert and looking for the beauty of my Creator in my surroundings when He spoke. I realized that listening is one of our greatest tools into the hearts of the broken or to gain clarity and perspective.  God whispered into my heart and said "I see what you see in this moment and I created it to pull you into Me."  I got out of my car lifted my hands to the sky and simply said thank You. He then said "you desire provision and I am your provider & you want to change the world, I created it and I want that too."  I was speechless and all I could do was listen to this amazing symphony in my backyard.  There are so many who people surround us on a daily basis that are broken and searching for something to change their circumstances. 

Before Easter I gave up social media on Tuesdays. I have never participated in lent but I felt like God was calling me to give it up and spend time in prayer in order to prepare for my writing and blogging day which is Wednesday. There were some Tuesday's I would grab my phone and almost hit the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or snapchat app. It is such a habit for me. From standing in the line at the store or walking through Target.  I miss so much. God seems to be continually showing me how many blessings there are literally right in front of me.  Since Easter I no longer have my phone in my bedroom and I am trying to keep it in the seat beside me when I'm driving rather than on my lap.  Something as small as a beep from an email coming through can trigger my thoughts into a "to do" list mode.  I then go to bed thinking about all I need to be doing rather than allowing God to consume my thoughts. 

Listening is one of the greatest qualities in a marriage or friendship. We tend to get so frustrated by our spouses, friends or kids when we think they are ignoring us or not listening. After reading about David's rash behavior of killing and ravaging towns simply because he couldn't see Gods hand I felt somewhat normal. What I know is that when I perceive God to be silent it's really Him calling me to press a little harder into my Him and to trust Him.  Just like David acted rash we often take matters into our own hands and then emptiness and sin or disappointment sets in.  How many of you have begged God to heal someone, take an addiction away or provide blessings among many other request? All of us have begged God at some point and when He appeared quiet or ignoring us we acted rash and interrupted His perfect plan.   Psalm 10 has been said to be the cry of David's heart during that time frame where he felt abandoned by God.  I love that he still recognizes Gods sovereignty as he questions where He is- 

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalms 10:1 ESV)

The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear (Psalms 10:1, 16, 17 ESV)

Ladies I promise He hears your every cry. He sees your anger and knows your fears. But He is YOUR King forever and ever.  Nothing will lessen or stop His deep pursuit of your heart.  Keep pressing in and wait with expectation because change is coming so don't interrupt it. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord ! (Psalms 27:14 ESV) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

pelicans, wet bottoms and self control

A few days ago I took the girls to Pelicans. This is a hot spot in Gastonia from spring all the way until fall. It serves a ton of different flavors of shaved ice and there is almost always a long line. I sat in the car while they stood in line and I watched a family walk up to the picnic tables and for the next few moments I just sat and watched them. The man walked up first and behind him was his wife and two daughters. One looked to be around 3 the other maybe a month old. He had a long beard and faded blue jeans on with a nice button down shirt. It had been raining so he sat down and slid across the bench to dry it for his family.  He then took the baby from the mom’s arms and held her so tightly while she cried and never once did he take a bite of his fast melting shaved ice.  His daughter then picked up her oversized what looked like to be grape slushy and the top fell off. He jumped up and scooped it back into her cup and wiped her face with his sleeve.  I had tears feel my eyes when we drove off because I was reminded of how much that sweet father reminded me of Jesus. His sovereignty blows me away because never once do I go unnoticed even when I can't feel, see or hear Him.  It is His attentiveness to my dreams, circumstances and doubt that sustains me when downpours come.   That father responded gently to the spills, cries and wet seats. His little girl smiled with every bite and it was as if she felt that it was the very presence of her father that made that slushy trip worth it all. There are times we feel so apathetic, numb and overwhelmed by the big and small things that we face day to day and we forget about the presence of our Creator. We respond with panic and run and then we miss out on what God has for us.  We allow our unedited emotions that are triggered by our daily circumstances to determine our choices of walking in obedience and how much we will love God and love His people.  We think it is up to us to control the things around us. Self control is one of the fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians.  I believe that this is one of the hardest areas to walk in because we like to make everything about us.  If we succeed at something we walk in this inflated since of accomplishment. When things crumble we blame ourselves or others. We make everything about US.  Self control isn’t about us. Its exercising the power of the holy spirit in us as we choose to make decisions, walk in obedience or let things go that we know isn’t going to glorify God.  One of the definitions I found in the Holman bible dictionary regarding self control was this “dispassionate approach to life” which simply means that we aren’t influenced or affected by emotions.  What if we allowed the pursuit of God and His love for us to be our only deciding factor when it comes to EVERY area of our lives?  A heart that is surrendered is a life that is positioned for God to immeasurably more.   When we aren’t exercising self control chaos will always set in and steal our joy, laughter and peace of mind.  We desire blessings and a harvest and tend forget about the process of growth in between.

Psalm 126:4-6 (Message)

And now, God, do it again-bring rains to our drought-stricken lives so those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest.  So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, armloads of blessing.

Today your drought is not the end result. Your financial ruin is not your end result. Your loneliness is not the end result. Your weight issues are not the end result. Your broken marriage is not the end result. Your past is not the end result. The list could go on and on and you need to hear that whatever is taunting you it is NOT your end result.  Your father in heaven is ready to wipe your tears, pick up your mess and bless you beyond measure. Will you choose to let your emotions run the show or will you yield to your Creator that has placed within you the power to do immeasurably MORE in His name? Choose Jesus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Was Judas a jerk?

This week as we move towards Easter Sunday I have so many different emotions stirring in me. I am free. I am redeemed. I am loved. I have eternal security. I feel sad & I have determination.  

I have been reading about the events leading up to the cross and I couldn't help but think about the part Judas played. He was a disciple and he walked with Jesus and saw the power that was behind His love and ongoing pursuit of people all around him and yet he chose to betray Him. 

John 12: 1Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead,[a] whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

This struck a cord in me.  I have seen Gods power displayed in my own life through prayers being answered to dreams being birthed in me. I have watched His hand guide me and I have felt His pursuit and yet I chose to ignore Him.  At first I had such anger towards Judas and then it hit me God knew it and He wasn't surprised by it and He still chose to cover those moments with His blood.  Easter forces us to remember the cross because it is what brings us hope and the comfort that Jesus covers all sin. I am surrounded by so many people who are struggling with their marriages, money, their past and current circumstances this week and those things are big and yet all seem to be bigger than the cross. The enemy likes to keep you measuring Gods power because it keeps you constantly feeling like you aren't enough or God isn't big enough to handle the depth of your chaos. The cross should fill our hearts with new passion because satan is a liar and no matter what he throws at you what Jesus did on the cross will always be bigger. Some of you need to hear that you are beautiful, redeemed, set free, made new, protected and provided for. Whatever it is you are in need of today I promise that the cross is where you begin.  It's often our biggest perceived failures that position our hearts to embrace Gods greatest miracles.  Just like the enemy smiled and thought he had won when Jesus took His last breathe on the cross he awaits for you to crumble at the foot of your brokenness. God breathed new life into His son and He got up and walked out of that tomb. God is calling you out of your disobedience, your self hatred, addiction or whatever it is that is causing darkness to lurk around you because He wants you to experience His power of redemption like never before. Be set FREE!