Power in the Stay

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I was a classic runner when I was a teen. Now before you think that means sports…stop. What I mean is that I was a runaway. If things got intense at home, I ran. It was never for long but it was definitely my initial reaction to stress. Now you can only imagine what that turned into as I went through high school. I ran to relationships, drinking, drugs, entertainment, adventure, etc. Thank God at twenty I ran into God!

I have found that runner in me still has a small voice in my thoughts at times.  Thoughts of being harmed by others if I don’t get out of intense situations….right now.  Thoughts of being overwhelmed or caught in a situation that I won’t be able to handle (rooted in childhood). I also battle thoughts that bad things will happen to me if I’m alone (also rooted in childhood).  I know as a new creation that these are not kingdom thoughts so I take them captive every time they rise. I replace them with God’s truth.  I don’t think I’m alone in battling this and it’s not even what I set out to write about, but these are the thoughts that have caused me to run.

My point in writing is that even though I don’t physically run away anymore, I have tended to run to other things. Friends, adventures, shopping, Facebook, conferences, worship services, etc. all the while God is saying “please stay here with Me.” It is so natural for me to run so it takes the supernatural to make me want to STAY.  I don’t think I’m alone. However,  I have learned to love the STAY.

I’ve learned in this season how to stay. How to stay in uncomfortable situations, how to stay in relationships when they are challenging. I was always one to drop friends if they betray me without thinking twice. I’ve learned how to navigate communication through disagreements and misunderstandings to see a resolve.  I’ve learned how to forgive. I’ve learned the great reward that comes from staying.

Christian ministry and missions are always asking who will go.  Send me…everyone chants! Answering the question of who will stay is equally as important.

What if what God dreams for you is for you to stay? Stay in that job that drives you crazy. Stay married to someone who is not the same person you married. Stay invested in your kids who disobey, disrespect, and dishonor. Stay in that church where there is no life. Stay in that region that is incredibly dry.

 Not staying to die, but staying to bring LIFE into those situations! 

Do we truly believe in a God who can do the impossible not just in other countries but right here in our country? in our state? region? family? Do we believe that we carry an atmosphere changing Holy Spirit in us everywhere we go? Do we carry a light that invades darkness? even if that darkness has been in every generation before us? Are we prepared to be the ones who draw the line in the sand and say NO MORE, take a stand, and watch God turn it all around in those areas…all for His glory?

What happens if everyone goes and nobody STAYS? There is a special reward for those who feel led to and choose to STAY.

Sometimes staying is the stepping out of that comfort zone that we are challenged to do instead of taking a missions trip to another country. Sometimes THERE IS POWER IN THE STAY.

I’m not saying everyone who is in these situations are meant to stay in them. Some are most definitely meant to GO, but make sure when you GO it’s NOT because you are running away from something you don’t want to face. The enemy loves to distract us from the things that are on God’s heart. Don’t let him.

The most important STAY is to STAY in His presence. Lock eyes on Jesus, spend time with Him and in the Word. Then you will know if you are meant to STAY or GO.

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Jesus Never Intended to be Your Secret Friend

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Jesus came to show us the “more than” way of life, but many times we settle for the “less than” of being politically correct and being a “good person”. We want so badly to show the world that we aren’t so different from them that we end up compromising our true testimony in the process.

We settle for politeness instead of true love, happiness instead of true joy, entertainment instead of true contentment, sex instead of true intimacy, indifference instead of true forgiveness, addictions and numbing our pain instead of true peace.

In our attempt to be unoffending with our faith many have started to leave out the name of Jesus and with that we settle for “less than” what we were created to have.

We must return to the WHO? and WHY? behind the WHAT that we do.

Through Jesus and only through Jesus do we have the “more than” that He died to give us. Let’s put Jesus back on our lips and back on the throne of our hearts.

Let’s be ok being “set apart.” Trust me, the world is looking for what the world can’t offer them. I speak from experience. They want a love that is rare and costly. They want Jesus, they just don’t know His name yet.

Go love, Go spread peace, Go do random acts of kindness, but PLEASE, PLEASE, let it flow out of the genuine “more than” in your life that comes from having an unashamed love for Jesus! Give Him the credit and glory that He deserves in your life!

He never intended for you to be His secret lover.

A Life Unfiltered

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Filters. We all use them. I use them. Apps have made it very easy for us to show a perfected image of ourselves to the world. Now I’m not opposed to filters on pictures to enhance and smooth one bit, but the problem comes when we try to use them in real life to make our lives look perfect in our interaction with others. I have NO desire to give the illusion of perfection in my real life.  I have always been a truth seeker and I prefer what is real to a facade any day.  It’s hard for me to relate to a facade and I can’t keep one up in myself.  I’ve also come to realize most people are not like me.

We all have those rooms we toss clutter into when company is expected (ok I do tidy up people…I live unfiltered, not unclean). We try to clean up the areas that will be seen by others. The question is why? I believe the answer is found in us believing we will somehow be unacceptable if our flaws are seen by others. Nobody wants to open themselves up to criticism or judgement. I can honestly say that I love when my tried and true friends come over and I don’t feel I have to thoroughly clean before they come. I know that my house and whether or not I’m wearing make up will NOT effect their love for me.

Whose love are we afraid of losing if we are seen, truly seen… strangers? friends? family? the church? God?

First of all God loves you no matter what so you don’t have to worry about losing His love….ever. You can make decisions that cause a distance on your end but it’s as simple as an “I’m sorry” and resuming relationship with Him. It is only through His unconditional love for you that you will be able to love yourself and others.

Friends, if they are true friends shouldn’t mind seeing the real you. In fact, they should celebrate you in your transparency and vulnerability. My closest friends are the people who have seen me at my worst and I’ve seen them at their worst and we have loved each other through it. I have had people tell me that they were jealous of my friendships because I take friendship very seriously. Honesty, transparency and vulnerability are all hallmarks of my forever friends. They could not care less whether my house is clean or I’m wearing sweats when they come over because they care more about my heart. We have been through wars together and survived and we celebrate our victories with joyful celebration.

Family, now sometimes this one is the hardest. Family see you at your worst but sometimes don’t have the grace that your friends have for you. Unfortunately these are where some of the deepest wounds are acquired, within the walls of your own home. This is why knowing where you stand with God is vitally important. Knowing that He sees you and loves you unfiltered gives you the ability to reflect His grace back at the ungraceful in your family. The beauty that is you does not cease to exist just because some people can’t see it.

Stangers, really? Now these are the people who will many times prefer the filtered version of you. It doesn’t require any investment on their part. It’s as easy as liking your pic on Facebook. Strangers don’t know how to handle flaws because many times they are scared to death of people seeing their own. The interesting thing is that when you dare to expose what you think are flaws, you become more accessible and relatable to many others. Look at what happened with the “Me Too” movement. Being real is so much more attractive than being perfect.

Church….another place which likes the christian filtered version of you. As long as you play the part and answer with the right answers you can slide by most of the time. Shouldn’t this be one of the safest places to be real? We can’t handle the truth of the pain that truly resides in peoples lives so we are more comfortable not asking and not sharing.

Maybe it’s more about making a good impression on people when you first meet them. I understand this, but you must have those people in your life that you can move past first impression relating with and move into doing life with them. That’s when it’s time to stop being polite and start getting real (anyone else remember Real World on MTV in the 90’s?). Only really real, not fake real. The stuff that comes from heartbreak and loss as well as hopes and dreams. Maybe it’s time for us to stop being religious and start getting real.

Now just because I live unfiltered does that mean I share the contents of my heart with just anyone? of course not.  Wisdom will tell you to what degree of detail you can share with whoever you encounter. It is vital that we all find those super safe people and places where we can be 100% honest about what’s really going on in our world.

We had a group that would meet at our house a couple years back and it was church for many who would come. This was a group in age from 17-35 and we would make meals together, worship together and share our struggles with each other in all honesty….it was beautiful.  This was a group that loved Jesus passionately. Many times prophecy would break out that dropped people on their faces in His presence. It gave me a glimpse of what the church is missing in their desire to maintain their religious comfort zones. My hearts desire is for church to truly become a safe place to come, be unfiltered, and still be accepted and loved.

So do what you want with your pics on social media but please don’t filter your real life. Find people and places where it’s ok to be real…the real you…unfiltered and still totally loved and accepted. They exist, I promise. It’s worth seeking to find your home. When you crack the facade of perfection you invite the light of love to come flooding into the darkness. Your heart will feel a hug that melts the ice that the illusion of perfection brought with it.

You are beautiful and worthy of love. You are seen, heard, and have great value. That is the truth of the matter. Don’t let anyone convince you to silence truth with a filtered response of ….I’m ok. Ask God to lead you to people who will be true friends for you so your heart can begin to blossom and come alive to who you were created to be all along.

You cannot have deep meaningful relationships living a filtered life so dare to remove the filter and let love in.

The Rising Resistance

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The things coming against you are making you stronger whether you realize it or not. Much like David had no clue that killing the lion and bear were part of his training and was building his strength and confidence in who God was to him and through him.

God is raising a people who are resistant to the enemy’s taunts and very aware of the snares laid in their path. They have been trained in the wilderness and much like David it has brought much confidence in the faithfulness of God and in His mighty power in their lives. They will not be flattered, distracted, or enticed by what is shiny. They know without a doubt that not all that glitters is gold. They have had much exposure to “fools gold” through their lifetime. They will not be enticed by the spotlight or fame, in fact, they will resist that too.

They have found the power in intimacy and when they flow and move it is straight out of the Fathers heart. This empowers them to not fall for a counterfeit. They are entwined with the Genuine.

These resisters have been exposed to much on their journey and they have fought many battles that they wish they could have avoided. It has all been strategic. We needed training as to what deserves our attention and what is merely an illusion and meant to distract us. They have learned to fight with the weapon of the Word as a sword and wield it skillfully. They have learned kingdom ways and developed kingdom character.

When a drill instructor is screaming horrible things in the military recruits face the recruit eventually learn to not react at all …no matter what. They are taught to handle stressful situations with a complete calm assurance. They are being taught resistance and endurance. We are being taught the same thing in this season. When the enemy is shouting in our faces we need to know when to address it and when to simply rest in the truth of Who we carry on the inside of us.

When people like nurses and doctors work in germ filled environments they end up resistant to the germs after awhile. When we get immunizations we are exposed to the very thing we are wanting to avoid. We end up resistant to the disease.

God is using it ALL. What you believe is evil and most definitely not of Him might just be your lion or bear building your strength and resistance.

**Remember…. Romans 8:28- He works ALL things together for our good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Genesis 50:20- What the enemy meant for evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people.

The Fire in You

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Some people will keep themselves away from getting too close to you solely due to the Fire you carry. They are both intrigued and terrified by it at the same time. They want to be close enough to stay warm and comfortable, but not too close to be challenged and changed.

Those reasons they stay away are rooted in wounds from the past. Truth is that if they allowed themselves to be honest and vulnerable, and to draw near…if they dared to wholeheartedly jump into that Fire themselves… they would NOT get burned…they would IGNITE!

Stay in the fire until it accomplishes what it’s meant to. Abiding is key. You in Him, Him in you. Then you take the Fire with you everywhere you go to IGNITE others who dare to draw near!!!

The Show Must Go On

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Yes, I’ve seen The Greatest Showman four times….so far. Don’t “movie shame” me people.  It’s probably my favorite movie of all time.  It’s a story about PT Barnum and his circus. It’s a great movie with God’s character and desires woven through the whole thing. Some things that stuck out to me I’m going to bring to the surface in this article.

PT is very much a dreamer and dreams of the impossible which I absolutely believe we could benefit by doing more often. I believe the One who created this wonderful world we live in has to be quite the Dreamer Himself, don’t you think? PT lives in a world without limits. He steadily turns what would look like defeat into opportunities used for his advantage and blessing. He does not leave room for discouragement in his life. He turns his critics words into cheers to rally him onward. We all need a little more of that kind of tenacity don’t we? I believe that PT’s character in this movie represented the Father’s heart quite well throughout the whole movie. The only way it didn’t was that PT was a bit of a exaggerator and left out facts when it came what he felt he had to do and say to see his dream come alive. God never lies or exaggerates.

What I absolutely love is the way he gathers the unlikely and those who are hidden due to the physical “defects” they were born with. PT sees these things as what makes them unique and what makes each of them beautiful. He saw them as something to celebrate and spotlight. Oh, how that carries the Father’s heart to see every one of our faces and hear every one of our voices. This group came out of the shadows and formed a family who learned to celebrate themselves and each other. I think we need more celebrating of our differences in our cities, towns, and churches.

The high class people of the city (the religious/pharisees) as well as some of the common townspeople (the world) wanted the circus out of their town and called the people in the show “freaks”.  They were both condescending and heartless. Meanwhile the people involved in the circus were filled with joy, acceptance, and a sense of family for the first time in their lives.

My favorite scene in the whole movie is where PT is trying to convince a young socialite, Philip, to join his team.  This is not an easy task as Philip is quite comfortable with his high class but boring life and thinks it would cost him too much as far as his reputation is concerned. They are sitting in a bar and I can almost hear the whole conversation going down as being between the Holy Spirit and someone stuck in religiosity. They are taking shots (new wine) and singing and dancing the whole time. I love hearing PT offering Philip that he will have joy and laughter and will find a life worth living if he accepts his offer. He takes PT up on his offer and never looks back.

Through the movie PT is accused of selling that which is fake because of his reputation for exaggerating the facts to get more people in to the shows. So PT goes on a search for something he thinks is real and starts to pursue the high class life with it’s priorities that Philip had just left without regret, only to find that what was real was right in front of him the whole time. The things the world was rejecting as “fake” was real the whole time. The fruit was real. It was the laughter and joy and an abundance of love in this family of “outcasts” that was real and lasting.

I believe the church that God is building looks a bit more like that circus than the angry judgmental villagers who were picketing outside the building. I believe God truly likes how He made us with our quirks and oddities, I believe we make Him smile when He looks at us. I believe if we would be more honest about ourselves we would find we all have those areas we have tried to hide. What happens if we create a safe place for people to dare to be honest about those things? What if we truly reached out in love to those branded unlovable? I believe it would be wonderful. I believe it would be spectacular. I believe we would end up seeing God as the GREATEST SHOWMAN OF ALL TIME!  I believe that’s His heart. I believe He would do amazing things… in fact…I BELIEVE HE WILL!

When you are walking hand in hand with the Greatest Showman of ALL TIME, He’s gonna show you things. It will be magnificent!

 

 

Time to Rest in Peace

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The thing I’ve seen cause the biggest faith crisis in people’s lives are in people who are still debating the goodness of God. They tend to believe that if they are happy then God is good and if they aren’t, God is bad, or distracted, or just simply doesn’t care. I have found that these are the same people, who when they walk away from God, it’s because they prayed for something and it didn’t happen. In may cases they thought He had told them how something would play out and it didn’t happen in that exact way.

I can’t tell you how many young adults I’ve run across who thought that God told them to marry a certain person and it didn’t happen and in most cases, it’s a really good thing it didn’t happen. Our own desires are really good at masquerading as God’s voice.

It’s actually kind of a flip on the Adam and Eve story in the bible where satan came and questioned “did God really say?” only this question is “Didn’t God tell you it would go differently?” BOTH questions are meant to make us question God’s goodness and whether His intentions for us are for good. They are devised to cause distance to form between us and God.

The truth is that God is a good father who will not allow things to happen that will ruin us if we are surrendered to Him…no matter how badly we want them. He sees the big picture that we simply cannot see with our human eyes. He is very much a father who will risk hurting your arm to yank you off the road so you don’t get hit by a car. We are very much like children wanting to play in the road sometimes. We need someone looking out for us who will see the big picture and not just the ball we are chasing after. Trust that when He says no there is good reason for it.

He will also allow things in our lives that will build our character and make us stronger. These things are usually situations we would walk away from if we could. They are the situations where we can’t see any way to do it or get through it without leaning on His strength. If we naively try to do it in our own strength chances are we will fail and then blame God for not making it a success. That’s another point for the enemy. Father God will carry you through things you never thought you would survive. Trust that He will carry you where your own strength can’t take you.

I sense He is wanting to settle this question in many right here and right now in many people’s lives. Is God good? Can He be trusted? Who is alive? Is it you, or Christ in you? Have you FULLY surrendered your life to His care? Have you died to self (your ways of thinking and feeling)? We are to have His eyes, His ears, His thoughts, His emotions, His heart, and His will for our life. Whose glory are you after… yours? or His? He wants you dead, for your own goodso He can live in and through you. He knows when you die you will REST IN HIS PEACE, His plans, His way. His dreams become our dreams. Don’t worry, His dreams for us far exceed anything we could want for ourselves.

He is looking for a resolve that says ….I’m sorry Father God for holding back areas of my life from you. I’m giving you all of me today...no matter what comes, I’m Yours and You are good and You love me more than I can understand. I lay my life down and say it’s Yours. ALL of it.  I trust You in the unanswered questions, and with all the things I don’t understand, with all my loved ones who are going on journeys I don’t understand. I believe that You work all things together for my good and I trust You with all my heart. Today I choose to rest in Your peace…in Jesus’s name.

Galatians 2:19-20-  For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 

Isaiah 26:3- You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.