Romans 5:6

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Embracing Change and Maintaining Priorities

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea ~ Psalm 46:1-2, NLT

Change is inevitable.  I’ve heard this my entire life, yet I often still have difficulties embracing it.  To know the Lord is to know the only One Who is consistent at all times.
Life has been somewhat of a whirlwind lately.  Admittedly I’ve had a few melt-down moments when it felt like no one noticed all I’ve been trying to juggle.  But isn’t it that way for all of us? Between work, classes, church planting involvement and not to mention learning this new role of being a wife, it’s easy to allow the Enemy to coax me to thinking no one has it as rough as me.  What a lie! We become ineffective in ministry when we spend our time planning and throwing pity parties for ourselves.  Satan wants nothing more than to cause us to think of only ourselves.  The more opportunities and responsibilities the Lord gives us the more it requires us to run to Him.  We cannot achieve life on our own.  Period.  We all have tons of responsibilities fighting for our attention.  Our main concern should be keeping Him as our priority.  There will always be dirty dishes, emails that require response, and laundry to fold.  Our attitude reflects what we deem as priority.  Our day to day handling of responsibilities reveals how much time we have spent with the Father.   Emails and dishes can wait. The Lord is beckoning to spend time with Him. The Lord desires for you and me to run to Him in the midst of every single need.  He is our refuge; He is our source of strength.  At the end of my life I don’t want to be known as one who sacrificed family time in order for more work to be accomplished.  I don’t want to be known now as one who prioritizes my relationship with the Lord as my last on the list.  I want to be known as a woman who runs after Jesus in all things.  Our priorities need to change…
What if you and I began to care only about what the Lord thinks of us?  This would go against everything the world teaches.  We will wear ourselves out trying to make people like us.  We will drive ourselves batty if we become too concerned with others opinions of us.  What would it look like if we as the Body really began to only care about what the Lord says of us?  Not everyone is going to like us.  This is OK!  Not everyone is going to appreciate us and our work ethic.  This is OK!  Jesus says just to run to Him.  He approves of us when we seek Him above all else… even with dirty dishes in the sink and emails that have been neglected.  When He truly becomes our refuge everything else will fall into place.  In the end my work won’t matter unless through it all He has been my source of strength and my refuge in every circumstance.
The Lord has reiterated the importance of running to Him and simply dwelling with Him through two recent happenings.  Christopher (my brother) came home to visit from his ministry efforts in Kentucky.  I was anxious about his homecoming and couldn’t wait to spend time with him.  Joseph and I made plans to meet him the day he got back into town, and even changed our schedule throughout the week to have him and his friend over for dinner.  Our time with the Lord should be approached with this enthusiasm and excitement.  When we don’t expect the Lord to speak He probably won’t. When we spend time with Him because we feel that we “have to” we won’t benefit from it… quick devotions and short quiet times do not equal running to Him as our refuge and strength.  If we are going to accomplish life well, we must be in His presence! 
Our life is not going to slow down.  We all have responsibilities to pay attention to, but through it all we must run to Him.  Melt down will occur.  Change will happen.  But how we handle every circumstance will determine what we are known for and who we are known to stand for.  This Sunday while doing the praise band run through, Lily (who just turned 1 year old) heard her dad’s voice coming from the stage.  Beau is our percussionist.  Lily heard him talking to us as we rehearsed and he noticed her coming towards him.  Lily ran as much as she could, as she hasn’t been walking terribly long.  Beau held his arms out for her.  His arms were her prize.  When we hear the Lord speaking to us and see His work in our lives so often it’s our tendency to blow it off or ignore it completely.  I want to be one who notices the Lord and runs hard and fast just to be in His arms, just to be with Him.  He is my prize!  Just like Beau embraced Lily when she made her way to him, the Lord desires to hold us tight as we find strength and refuge in Him.
Change is happening all around us.  Some good.  Some not so wonderful.  Knowing and serving the only One Who is constant is where we find strength.  It’s ok if we don’t accomplish everything the world thinks we should.  I believe that those of us belonging to Christ should become serious about really looking different than the world.  Because change is constant it can overwhelm us if we let it.  When we realize that it’s relationships with others and our relationship with Him that matter most we are able to embrace change… because through it all we know He is embracing us.
Until next time,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Working with Purpose

Much has transpired since my last blog back in January.  I’ve completed half of my classes for seminary; Joseph and I bought a house in the Pearl/Brandon area in order to be closer to the Church plant we are a part of (The Exchange); and we got married a week and a half ago!! The Lord has been incredibly gracious and faithful to us.
The Lord has taught me so much about myself through just my week and a half of marriage.  Joseph has challenged me to broaden my perspective on many issues that I formerly looked at more narrowly than I thought.  When we got back home from the honeymoon we settled in to study scripture.  1 Kings was orchestrated to be in the reading for this week in the One Year Bible we are now going through. King Solomon was the focus…
So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth. People from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him. ~1 Kings 10: 23-24
As Joseph and I discussed what we had studied he encouraged me by saying (paraphrase):  “It doesn’t matter if anyone notices your work because God always does.”  As we talked about Solomon I really focused on the fact that people sought him out for his gifts.  They wanted to reap the benefit of his wisdom by their willingness to learn from him. What are people seeking me out for?  Joseph has encouraged me a great deal on days that I don’t feel appreciated in any area by reminding me that first of all, my work is ultimately for the Lord and secondly, He has a plan far bigger than I can imagine.
Solomon was able to exercise the gifts that the Lord had granted him. People knew what he was good at.  His wisdom made his name famous.  People may never have a chance to know what I’m good at, what my gifts are or what I enjoy in any given job that I have.  BUT I’m still called to the standard of Colossians 3:23—“Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as you are working for the Lord, not men.”
Joseph and I also read this: Fire tests purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart. ~Proverbs 17:3.  It matters that my heart is in the right place with my Maker and that my motives in all things (especially my work) are pure and pleasing to Him. It doesn’t matter that I ever receive recognition for a job well-done or a pat on the back to show appreciation.  My concern should be to only focus on the Lord’s requirements of me.  As one who belongs to the King of Kings, I know where I belong and trust that His purposes are being orchestrated and played out in all areas of my life.  No opportunity is wasted if my perspective remains in focus.  My work and my attitude matter because I am called to work unto Him.  If I fail at striving to glorify Him in one area of my life I fail in all others as well.  He certainly deserves my devotion in every area of life!

I’m not working just for a pay check or to make my name great.  The Lord has given me a unique opportunity to serve Him in a cubicle for this season.  He is teaching me more every day about what surrender looks like.  My goals and my ambitions are great, but if they aren’t in God’s plan for me I must learn to “bloom where I’m planted” as one friend of mine always says. 
So I encourage you who are reading, check your motives and your attitude.  If Christ isn’t at the center of each your perspective needs adjusting like mine did.  Every opportunity given is a chance to glorify the Lord more than before in how I handle day to day tasks.  Be encouraged knowing that what you do really does matter when He is the center and you are rooted deep in His love.
I’m grateful for the way the Lord keeps teaching me “old lessons” that He knows I need to go over again… and I’m grateful for a husband who challenges me to think Heaven-minded rather than allowing me to become content being disgruntled.

Your work is valuable. Your attitude is determines your perspective.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Speech and Footsteps

     What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

      But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
   You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
   In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.  ~James 2:14-26

Most believers I know love talking about “walkin’ the walk, not just talkin’ the talk” where Christianity is concerned.  Sadly, though, not all of them (myself included) do so well at maintaining this lifestyle consistently.  Why is this so?

What if the Church as a whole took this seriously?  What if we put faith into action through all of our deeds, not just our simple Sunday School routines?  What if our speech was proven by our footsteps?

If we waiver in any of our convictions, even just one, we in effect are causing our speech of desiring to be obedient to the Lord to be disproved in our footsteps (our actions).  The Lord has reminded me in recent months that all of the convictions He gives have powerful purpose behind them. 

Many things that He called me to at a younger age seem impossible by the world’s standards, and even undesirable among believers.  Though many surrounding me questioned my actions, even stating that I believed myself to be superior in some manner for the beliefs the Lord gave me to uphold, I knew that if I waivered, I’d be disobedient.  I knew that if my speech and footsteps didn’t align I wouldn’t be walkin’ the walk I so often speak of.

I write this to lend encouragement in those areas that you are questioned most about.  Knowing my convictions in all things caused me to believe more that the purpose would be fulfilled “at just the right time”.  He has given each one of us different convictions not because we are to esteem ourselves as more righteous than others, but to equip us for greater ministry.  The Lord sees far beyond our circumstances.  What He has called you to obey in today is preparing you for all of your tomorrows.  I knew that if I waivered in my strong convictions I would lose some of the influence that He set apart for me to live in.  Our convictions aren’t merely for our own benefit, as if to make us only “do better”.  I believe that our convictions benefit the Body as a whole.  If we forgo what we know to be true in our own lives, the standard that Christ has called us to as His Bride and as individuals, we miss out on the beauty found in faith and deeds working together.

Hold fast to your convictions, brothers and sisters… every one of them!  A new day is on the horizon where He will reveal His purpose behind each one.  “At just the right time” the Lord blessed me with the fulfillment of many prayers and strong convictions… things that only He could have ordained.  I believe the same is true and/or will be true in each situation in the believer’s life.  When our faith exceeds our desire to be “normal” in the world, our deeds will prove this. 

Had I not obeyed the Lord several years ago, my story with the man He has for me to marry wouldn’t have been the same.  When we look beyond our circumstances of today even for a moment we find that He has written a story for us far beyond what we could have dreamed up on our own.

We know that the Lord says, “Obedience is better than sacrifice”.  I believe that coincides with our faith and deeds.  He knows the world we live in.  He knows it’s difficult… but He calls us to a higher standard.  Our obedience is for the benefit of those watching our every move… it’s for those who are living in doubt, but will be able to watch our footsteps and listen to our speech and see us as different.

Keep your convictions.  He desires to use them, and your story, to minister to more folks than you’ll ever know.  It’s your speech and footsteps people will know and remember you for.  What’s your walk and talk saying about how true you are to your convictions?