Category Archives: Inspirational

Doctor’s Offices, Drive Thru’s and Dating

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What do you think of when you hear the word “waiting“? Personally, I think of a torturous activity that includes doctor’s offices, check out lines and the like that causes impatience to flare up. This girl has grown to cringe at the concept in waiting especially in her dating life. I will own the fact that I am a product of our instant gratification culture where most things are only a drive thru or click away. Believe me, if there could be a drive thru for dating I am pretty sure every single person would be there and the line would be miles long. So there we are, back to the whole waiting thing again.

You see, maybe you are like me and struggle with what to do with waiting. I mean really, who thinks “oh today I am going to do some waiting. Yup, that waiting was the highlight of my day.” Take that into the dating realm. The first picture that pops into my head is a woman sitting at home knitting socks and sewing buttons waiting for a man to court her. (Okay so maybe I read Little Women one to many times). Regardless, I highly doubt that any of us are overly excited at the idea of waiting. In fact, when God impressed upon my heart back in November that I would be single for a year, I cried and wailed and attempted to persuade him that a FedEx box on my door step with my husband in it was a better alternative. Unfortunately here we are about five months later and still no box on my porch. Looks like God has bigger plans.

But God has been teaching me something in the past few months. I have learned waiting in singleness is not a passive activity. Far from it actually. When I sit down with a girlfriend over coffee and discuss my situation of singleness, I have begun to realize that there is far more I can be doing than pining away for my God appointed helpmate. God has opened my eyes up to the importance of intension during singleness that actively prepares me for my future relationship with my spouse. This time of my life is not meant to be idle. Nor is this is the time to be throwing a pity party. In no way is eating ice cream watching chick flicks, reading love stories or planning our future wedding, helping our cause. Even if everyone in our life is getting married or dating someone does not mean we don’t have things we can be intentionally doing to prepare for the things God has for us.

Above all else we need to fully surrender ourselves to Christ. Fully. Not partially, not selectively. Fully. The most important thing I can do for my spouse is fall head over heals in love with my Savior.  My relationship with Christ directly affects every area of my life and will affect my ability to be a good wife to my husband. Do I trust the One who created me? If not, how can I trust a flawed human being?  The biggest gift I can give my husband is being firmly planted in Him. Our relationship with Christ directly affects our ability to love another person. When we withhold ourself from Him, taking control, we cut off the supply of life to that area of our life and death is bound to follow.

It is important to identify that only Christ can fix the broken places of my heart. Christ alone sets me free. No man can give me my identity, but Christ can because He created me. Security does not come from a man or possession, but through Christ who is my Provider. As much as we want to believe that our significant other will provide a solution to pain or complete a process of healing or make us whole in some way that is far from the case. Jesus completes us, heals us and is the Perfecter of our faith. Attaching ourself to another equally broken person without knowing who we are in Christ is a recipe for disaster. Take it from the girl who used to be a leach, sucking a man dry in desperation to figure out who she was all the while he didn’t know who he was. When we know who we are in Christ, we are whole and confident in Him prepared to sustain a relationship with another broken human being. No longer are we looking to them as an answer, we already know the answer.

In understanding each of these things and more through pursuing God whole heartedly, I am establishing discipline in my life that will carry over into my future marriage. By reaching out to Him to receive all I need, I am practicing identifying the proper source of where those needs are filled. I am building a foundation in my life that will join with my husband who I believe is doing the same to build a life on the cornerstone of Christ. But we each have to own our faith first and walk it out alone before we can to it together. Without the opportunity to exercise our faith muscles we risk being unequally yoked, depending upon the other person in the relationship to carry our weight. Another person cannot walk out a relationship with Christ for you.

Finally we can pray. We can be prayer warriors for our spouse and future marriage as we wait. Just because we don’t know their name or details doesn’t mean that prayer isn’t effective. God knows all. He knows your spouse better than you ever will. I think sometimes we think of prayer as a passive activity because we don’t always see the fruit right away. But actually prayer is biggest thing we can do. I know I hope my husband is already praying for me, it’s likely he has been for years. Truth be told I very well could be the woman I am today because the power of some prayerful people who lifted me up to the only One who could reach me. Never ever ever underestimate the power of prayer. If you don’t pray for your marriage, who will? I know I want to actively sow into my marriage now through prayer even though I don’t get to see the harvest for a while. Prayer has become an active act of submission of my plans in exchange for God’s plans. As I pray for my husband, our hearts are being knit together. I want a unified marriage through Christ where my husband and I’s heart beats as one. The only way I know how to have that happen is kneel before the Author of my love story and pray. I am learning to love that man already through prayer. Prayer purifies our motives and exchanges our natural selfish lust for selfless Christ filled love.

Singleness is not this holding place meant to torture us. It is a period of time to prepare for all the beauty God has for us. Personally through seeking Him and praying for my husband my heart has been filled with purpose and a hope of a future beyond my wildest imagination. My motives have been purified. I no longer seek to be married because of a deep need that  aches to be filled. Instead I desire to journey through life with my husband spurring him on to be the man God has called him to be and as a couple seek to glorify His Name. My singleness transformed from a time of idleness to a time of intension because God opened my eyes to the responsibility I have in preparation for my groom. But most of all I no longer worry about this area of my life. Dating and marriage used to consume me, but I realize now that He has always been penning my love story.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, 
   for I have put my trust in you. 
Show me the way I should go, 
   for to you I entrust my life. ” –Psalm 143:8

A Small Sparkly Reminder

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I am laughing as I sit down to write this blog post. It’s not something I ever planned to write about. So brace yourself.

I have a nose piercing.

A seemingly insignificant speck in my right nostril. Meaningless to the passerby and possibly overlooked by people who know me well. I never change it to something flashy and am not personally into the “nose ring”. I got the piercing when I turned twenty-two and honestly was slightly terrified of the reaction I believed my Mother would have when she saw it. (I must add she wasn’t phased and reacted opposite of my expectation).  I did not get the piercing because of the fad that seems to have invaded my generation, although I would imagine that would be the typical assumption.

Several months before my birthday that year I came across this passage that touched a deep place in my heart. I must confess that it had meaning out of context for this weary girls heart. A biblical scholar may not have this particular interpretation, but God’s Word is alive and active and it spoke very clearly to me that day. What I saw was my own story.  Ezekiel 16: 5-13 became alive through the lens of my own life:

5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.

6 “‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”[a]7 I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.

8 “‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.

9 “‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. 10I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. 

There were years of my life where I felt as though I was kicking about in my own blood in the middle of a field, discarded and alone. Blood from life decisions that caused my soul to run dry. The combination of sin and running from the plans God had for me, had pooled around me and caused isolation. This blood was a symbol of shame I rolled about in. Other times it was self-pity, self loathing and pure disgust. In certain moments it was hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness and rage. There certainly were times it was pride, insecurity and a desperate need to be in control. Sometimes it was distress and awareness of my captivity. I did not know how to get up out of the blood, there were moments where it was comfortable and familiar and yet I loathed the condition I was in.

I seemed to live simply because I was born. I went through the motions, developing and using tools to cope, limping along and refusing to relinquish control. My identity remained in the pools of blood at my feet and caked on my naked body. Ashamed of the condition I was in, deception swirled in the depths of my soul. Often I felt that the command to “live” was a cruel trick and I pled with the Giver of Life to take me and to end my suffering. I wanted a way out.

Truly it was not until I understood fully the covenant the King had made with me that I began to see myself for who I really was. One day I realized He took notice of me in my blood and nakedness and called me His. It was while I was in the field He came and delivered me from that barren place and carefully washed me of my blood and sin. He tended to each wound and clothed me. My King dressed me in the finest garments and saw something in me I never did. He took me and made me a queen.

The day I read this passage the description of clothing, jewelry and then being crowned struck a place in my heart. The value He gave me began to be exposed. I did not want to forget this identity. I never wanted to forget the process from the field to Him calling me his own. But I struggled with how to remember. The little girl in me wanted to wear a crown but when my eyes rested on “and I put a ring on your nose” I knew. A nose piercing was the perfect way for me to remember.

So at first glance it is a tiny jewel in my nose. But in my heart it is a crown I wear on my head to remember just how far He has brought me. I no longer lie in the field caked in my own destruction left to die. I do not want to forget what Christ did to deliver me.

Yes I got my nose pierced  as a reminder of how far He has brought me and the sacrifice He made to set me free. A small sparkly reminder of Him and His glory. And incase you didn’t know, He has done the same for you. You, my sweet sister are a queen, chosen by Him. He wants nothing more than to cleanse you from all that weighs you down and bring you out of your field of waste into the identity you have always had. He died to set you free. Friend, if you have never heard about the freedom Christ can offer I’d love to pray for you. Pray this with me:

Jesus, I am aware of the blood and waste that I am laying in. I am tired of trying to make this work on my own. I recognize my need for a savior and I accept that You want to make me your own. Thank you for dying on the cross, conquering death and suffering for my sin. Through acceptance of You I am cleansed and forgiven, forever a new creation in You and made new.   I believe that You are the Messiah that came to conquer death so that I can live eternal life with You as your accepted, chosen, adopted, redeemed and forgiven child. Thank you for this gift and opening my eyes to see who I am in You and what You have done for me. Today I accept you as my King and enter into the divine covenant that will radically change my life. I pray this in Jesus Christ’s Name- Amen

If you prayed this leave a comment or please find a local church this weekend and I promise He will meet you there. If you still aren’t sure or have questions or are just curious about all of this, please find a church in Your area and go. There is no better time than this sunday.

Also I’d love to hear if you have something in your life that reminds you of how far you have come and price He paid for you. Leave a comment 🙂

What are You Worshipping?

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Fear.

It grabs onto our souls and digs its claws in deep. It wraps itself around the inner workings of our heart like a vine, slowly strangling and suffocating until we are captive. Fear can start out small and insignificant, but with every small conformation that it possibly could be legitimate its roots grow deeper and the vine wraps tighter.

Some fears are stronger than others. Sometimes fear quakes like a small tremor in our heart. It is a skipped heartbeat, or a held breath. Other times it is paralyzing. It grabs hold like a monster squeezing and tormenting the one in its grasp rendering her ineffective. Fear lays us out on the floor trembling, unable to move. We cower in the corner, hiding, shaking in fears shadow unable to move.

Fear. What are you afraid of? Maybe you are afraid of…

-Your past.

-A secret source of shame. Exposed.

-Disappointing people.

-What people think of you.

-Losing someone you love.

-Feeling hurt and pain.

-Abandonment by those you let close or deep into your heart.

-Vulnerability

Fears come packaged in all shapes and sizes. Your fears may be different than mine, but I imagine they still have the same effect to paralyze and bring you to your knees. Why is it that we fear things when we have a God who is all powerful? The very God that commanded the stars in their place and can calm the seas, loves us and holds us in His righteous right hand. And yet we fear. When we fear, in our mind we take His power away and place it somewhere else. Our fears are a displacement of power.

God is bigger than our biggest fears. The only thing we should fear is Him. We are to revere God for how powerful and mighty He is. When we fear something other than God, we are bowing down and worshiping it, giving it power that only God deserves. Nothing but God should bring us to our knees.

There is not a single thing that is too big for God to handle. He says:

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 Our God is our helpmate. The One who is strong in our weakness (Isa 40:29). He will fight our battles (Ex 14:14). We need only to reach out and hold fast to Him (Joshua 23:8).

Will we reach out and hold fast to our God and King who will conquer all our fears? Will we die to ourselves and stop worshiping our fears and allow only God to have power and authority over us?

Today, let’s get a conversation going about the power of God and the promises He makes to us when we are afraid. What verses do you cling to in times of fear?

 

Dancing in the Arms of Idols

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Yesterday l talked about my deep seeded issue of control. Honestly, when dealing with this issue I do not think I can avoid facing some of the idols in my life. Ugh. Idols. Idols is one of those words I dance around. It is something that I do not want to acknowledge or really admit that I deal with. But the truth of the matter is every time I do not trust God I am turning away from Him and trusting something else. Ironically I find myself dancing in the arms of idols. Talk about denial.

An idol according to the Strong’s NIV Exhaustive Concordance is worthless, idolatries, or images (Strongs 496). As I pondered this I realized that my idols are all images that I have perceived to have found my worth in or can affirm my value. Often I perceive them to be safe and secure because many of them are comfortable.  Yet idols are really worthless. Habakkuk 2: 18 says:

Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.”

We are asked of what value is an idol? They teach lies. Each idol we have creates a false security, a false identity. We create them with our own hands, or with our minds and believe that these things are going to save us or validate us. We trust in our own creation more than the One who created us. Does that make any one else shudder?

So here is the fun part, (okay so not really) but here are some of the idols in my life. Maybe you can relate? Anyone?

Idolatry of Men- I often believe that men alone have the power to determine my value. Their words determine how and what I believe about myself. If they say that I am beautiful for a fleeting moment I believe that I am beautiful. There was a day that I would pine after their attention and if there was not a man knocking at my door I suddenly had no worth. But as you can imagine placing my identity in the hands of another person also had dire consequences. I won’t go there.

Idolatry of Self- This one is wrapped up with pride and a nice bow to boot. Many times I believe that I have it more figured out than God. Or other people. This one for me also has a lot to do with “how far I have come”. I forget that He is the one redeeming me a day at a time. No book, bible study or amount of knowledge is the reason I am the woman I am today. But I forget that.

Idolatry of Image- I bow down to this idol more often than I realize. This one for me deals with all things beauty products, gym equipment,  and clothing size. Even this morning I ran to grab lunch with a friend and found myself apologizing for not wearing make-up or changing out of work out clothes. I was embarrassed. What? Later I realized in that very instance I was placing my worth right in the hands of my image and how I appeared to others. Yuck.

Idolatry of Success- This one has been right there in the front and center lately. I won’t lie graduating and not having a clue what comes next creates a big ol’ hole in the success area. So I find myself creating all types of reasons for the delay of finding a career.

These are just some of the area’s that demand my attention and often dictate my value. Maybe you struggle with similar ones. The truth is each of these things shifts like shadows. When I am busy tending to my idols I am nothing shy of a crazed mess. It is really hard to have a man constantly affirming you while having a perfect hair day, flawless make-up, the perfect pant size, reading enough spiritual growth books, attending enough bible studies and having a fabulous career. I’m exhausted just typing that. That perfect day has yet to happen in this girls life and likely won’t ever. Not to mention that is no longer my idea of a perfect day. But notice there is no room for God in this list when I am thinking about these things.

Thankfully, God is slowly bringing me to a place where these things have less of an impact on what I believe about myself. As these idol’s are exposed I realize how they are so incapable of providing for my needs and deepest desires. These idols do not speak and they never can satisfy. Thankfully that is where Christ steps in. As I learn to trust Him in all things I begin to see more and more that He is the only One that will ever fill me up. John 7: 38 says:

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”. 

Whoever believes. My soul is thirsty for the Living Water that will satisfy my every need. I want that river of living water to flow within me. Truth be told my biggest hang up is belief. Sure I believe in the Living God, but do I really believe that if I come to Him and lay myself down at His feet that He is all I need? Do I really believe that He is who He says He is? Or that God can do what He says He can do? Better yet, do I believe that I am who He says I am?

Maybe you are right where I am. As we shed our idols and turn towards the One who will fill us with rivers of living water, what is getting in the way? I’d love to pray and journey with you.

 

Passion 2012: Part 2

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It is hard to put into words all that happened in my heart at Passion 2012. It is impossible to sum up the emotion and the way that God reached down and touched this place. You would think that in a crowd of that size you would feel more lost and unknown. But I felt more myself and authentic there alongside so many people that love Jesus with no bounds.God really rocked my world with the messages that the speakers brought to Passion 2012. It amazes me how at just the right time we can hear a word straight from Him.

God convicted my heart through the words of Francis Chan on an issue that He has been trying to get me to do for some time. I will admit, sometimes I am S-L-O-W. This girl loves books. I particularly love books on spiritual growth. While these things are not intrinsically bad, it can be a problem if they are the only source of “truth” in your life. I read books and supplemented it with an occasional verse from scripture instead of the other way around. I read these books with hope to gain spiritual insight and growth. But Francis Chan said something that was on my heart for months. “Read the Bible for yourself”. For months God has been whispering to my heart about seriously digging into His Word. Seeking nothing before His Word. At first my motivation was I wanted for myself the spiritual insights and understanding that the people writing the books and bible studies had. I don’t think that was a wrong motivation. I just began to realize that those that really wrote something based on the Word of God had to wrestle, grapple and struggle with it to come to a place of understanding. I wanted that journey with God. I did not want to be spoon fed any longer. I did not want the middle man to be my source of understanding of the God I love. No, I wanted that journey and understanding straight from Him. Now, believe me. I think God can use books, bible studies, sermon’s and people all as a vessel to get to you, but there is something amazing about receiving understanding straight from the Word itself. This stirring began several months ago, but Francis Chan hit it home.

Something that keeps rolling around in my mind that he said was “Don’t just follow something because they have something smart to say”. How often do we follow people just because they have something smart to say? I will admit, almost everyone I follow on twitter is because I think they are smart or I value what they say. Francis Chan also talked about the seriousness of the Word and how we as believers of God need to be testing everything against scripture. Do the things people say match with God’s Word? Do we know scripture well enough to see a counterfeit? How well do we we know the Bible? I must admit, I have been guilty of taking in much of what I read and giving it authority in my life without testing it against the Word of God. I cannot sit here and trust that everyone that has something to say is true and right. Francis Chan spoke truth when he said “People will lie to you”. I want to be able to discern and test things against the Word of God. Do you? Some questions Francis Chan left me with to think about that maybe you need to ponder:

-We manipulate the Word to match our desires. How is my heart? Am I manipulating the Word to make it match something I want?

-We try to beautify everything. Have I created a false sense of the Word just to keep it looking the way I want?

-Do I take the Bible literally? Or am I creating it into a figurative book open for interpretation?

-Do I know the Word well enough to test it against something that may be lying to me?

These are things that have definitely left me thinking. I am praying for a discerning spirit that will allow me to understand scripture and test things that I learn, hear and see against the authority of the Word of God.

P.S. If you want to hear this and the other messages for yourself go here and purchase an all access pass. I promise you it is worth the money for all that you get 🙂

It was amazing learning from John Piper along side so many of my peers who love Jesus

Passion 2012: Part 1

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Today there are 27 million people in slavery. Did you know?

From Jan 2nd to Jan 5th, I had the privilege to gather with 44,000 of my peers for the glory of God at a conference called Passion 2012. Together we moved to “Do Something Now” and raised $3,066,670 to end slavery. Such a beautiful testimony of what can happen when we link hands and give what we can. Crazy to think all that money came from college students. Did you know that there are 27 million people in slavery today? That is more then ever before in all of history. So much of it is happening right under our nose, in our own cities. Women in the sex trade being raped repeatedly and held captive in rooms, used for their body. Many of the things we enjoy on a daily basis has been crafted by the hands of slaves. We need to take a stand to end modern day slavery. Get involved and get educated. We cannot stand by and look away claiming to not know what is going on. If you are interested in wanting to know more about ministries who fight modern day slavery through prevention, rescue and restoration here are some we supported at Passion:

Tiny Hands

A21 

IJM

Hagar

Wellspring

Passion 2012 was an amazing experience that completely broke me and rebuilt me and broke me again. Being in one place with 44,000 people that love Jesus just like you is truly a slice of heaven. There were some fabulous speakers, amazing worship bands and times to meet before the Lord. We met in community groups where we had the opportunity to meet with 8 to 10 or our peers and discuss the things we were learning. I met some amazing people with testimonies that confirm that God never forsakes His people. Finding Christ is like being struck by lightning, all of the sudden it happens and you are never the same. I am going to tell you a little about the things that I heard while at Passion. I will probably devote a couple more posts to all I saw/heard and learned. But here is a start.

First Night at Passion 2012

Acclimate was a campaign that began before Passion. All across the globe we read the Word in preparation to come together. It scrolled through the Bible and we all read the same thing at the same time. Right as Passion began we read the final chapter’s together. Acclimate went through the Bible five times before opening night. Louie Giglio opened the conference reminding us all about how this whole gathering is all is for Jesus. He spoke to us from Luke 7:11-16 talking to us about the ways that Jesus can interrupt or life and raise us from the dead. He painted such a powerful image coming from this passage. This widow’s son had died and was being carried out. When He saw her his heart went out to her. Someone needs to know that God’s heart goes out to you. He sees you in your pain, hurting, suffering and grief. Jesus walked up to the stretcher and touched the boy and told him to sit up. He was raised from the dead. Louie reminded us that God can raise us from the dead. Some of us are still stretched out dead, being carried to our grave. Maybe we know Jesus but haven’t fully submitted our whole life to Him, living for Him alone. Or maybe other’s have never heard of Jesus or don’t know who or what He is all about and wonder why someone would let Him raise us from the dead, let alone don’t know they are dead. But Louie reminded us that “God came to interrupt your funeral procession. Jesus is here just at the right time.” Sin put us in an eternal grave. It is sin that separates us from God, until we repent and except Him as the One who came to save us from sin. He died to set us free from sin and restore our relationship with God the Father we are on a stretcher being carried out to an eternal death.

We had great seats for one of the sessions at Passion 2012

On the second day we heard from Beth Moore who spoke out of Luke 8:40-48. Her words were powerful and poignant. As she spoke about the woman with the issue of blood she uncovered the power of faith. This woman had been menstruating for 12 years straight. Historically women who were menstruating had to be separated from society because they were considered unclean and were not allowed to come back into society until their cycle had finished. Imagine 12 years of complete isolation. She had done everything she could think of and spent all her money to find a remedy for her problem. And then she heard about Jesus, a man who could heal. She walked through a crowd just to touch him, maybe she would be cured. Beth noted that we feel a great amount of discomfort talking about a woman who bled for 12 years. That same discomfort is like what we feel with our darkest secrets. Those secret shames that we would never share with the world. Things that we would do anything to undo, change or be free from. It was a secret that she needed healing from. We all have those secrets too. The woman reached out and touched the tassel on Jesus’ garment and she was healed. All she had to have was faith that Jesus would heal her.  More on this later. It touched my soul deeply.

We also heard from Christine Caine, one of the founders of the ministry A21, a ministry dedicated to rescuing women out of sex trafficking. She has such a powerful testimony and ministry that is working to end sex trafficking. She talked about the way that compassion is not compassion until you get involved. Compassion is not something you have sitting on the side lines and feeling sad for something that is happening. It is using your resources and energy to get involved and make a change to help those you feel compassion for. I loved the way that she said “Compassion is not compassion until you cross the street.” We have to cross the street and do something. “God wants to use rescued people to rescue people”. It is so true. Those that experience healing of Christ desire for all people to experience the love of Christ. Another beautiful picture she used was comparing the light of Christ with a flashlight. You cannot see the light of the flashlight if you are not in the dark.  In order for Christ’s light to be seen we need to go find some darkness and shine into it.

Hand rising up to end slavery- A hand of worship, hand reaching out to end slavery

Outside the Atlanta Dome, where we met at Passion, there was a hand being erected to be a visual sign of the slavery that we were combatting. On the hand was things that were made by slaves. Things like toys, stuffed animals, christmas ornaments, denim, coffee and other goods that are everyday luxuries to us. This hand towered over the International Plaza where on the third night we gathered in silence, complete silence and lit candles at midnight. The hand was lit up and we began praying and singing praises to God, believing He will move to free those in bondage.

A Generation Rising UP to take there place... And make a difference

If you haven’t seen CNN covered some of what happened at Passion 2012. Click here to check it out for yourself. We are a generation rising up to take our place. We will make a difference for His great Name!!!

More to come on Passion 2012. Stop by tomorrow for more pictures and tidbits on what I learned from some of the teachers that spoke 🙂

Surviving the Spiritual Desert

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When I moved to South Dakota the beginning of this summer I could feel the desert creeping in. The desert was disguised in a move to a new location with no friends and no community. I have made the mistake of isolating myself in the past and have never fallen deeper into a pit of despair, so this time I was determined to build a community around me. Every time I join a new bible study I doubt, get nervous and question if I really belong. Satan loves to get up in my business and harass me about my identity in Christ through this. But I could not help but long to be in this study because of the study itself. May I be honest? It was the book we were digging into that intrigued me more than the community.

About a year ago my home church in Denver was going to do this same study, but because of my job I couldn’t do it. Disappointed I promised myself that if it ever came along again I would do it. Here I was in a small South Dakota town and the study was here again. This time it fit.

The study we were doing was Here and Now…There and Then by Beth Moore, a lecture series on Revelation. I have always been intrigued by Revelation. Wide eyed as a child I read about things to come. At the time it seemed more like a fantasy novel to me. Honestly I didn’t understand anything but I was curious. Eagerly I joined the study hoping to learn a few things and at the very least feel connected to God again. Thankfully I received both and a community.
As I dug into the pages of Revelation, I began to feel the passion of studying God’s Word well inside of me again. It was a very small flame, but still there. I dug out my bibles and searched the words longing to find something that seemed to come straight from the Him to me. Upon studying the 7 churches I decided, with the prompting of a homework assignment, to figure out each church’s commendation, warning and promise. (if you want to follow along flip to Rev. 2-3).
Meticulously I went through each church hoping maybe I’d find something. When I came upon the church Sardis it hit me. God nudged my heart and opened my eyes to the place I was in. Revelation 3:1-5 says:

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things say He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will com upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (NKJV)

Now before you high tail it out of here because of that passage let me give you insight into what I found. In my journal I wrote the commendation, warning and promise to overcomers. For Sardis it looked like this:

Commendation:

  • some have kept the faith
  • a few have not soiled their garments or are not defiled themselves

Warning:

  • the church is dead–>appears to have a good reputation but really is dead.
  • they need to be watchful and strengthen the things which remain
  • Christ has not found their works perfect
  • If they are not watching Christ will come like a thief in the night and they will no be ready

Promise to Overcomers:

  • Shall be clothed in white garments
  • Shall not blot their name out of the book of life but instead confess their name to the Father.

What really opened my eyes though was a commentary I was reading along side it called “Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.” He says:
“This church had gained a great reputation; it had a name, and a very honourable one, for a flourishing church, a name for vital lively religion, for purity of doctrine, unity among themselves, uniformity in worship, decency and order. Every thing appeared well, as to what falls under the observation of men. This church was not what it was reputed to be. They had a name to live, but they were dead; there was a form of godlines, but not the power, a name to live but not a principle of life” (13492-13493).

This church looked okay on the outside but was dead on the inside. That’s how I felt. I was and have been going through the motions, serving in the place I was but yet felt dead. Possibly people looked at me and thought that I had it all together and had a vibrant spiritual life. But reality was I felt dried up inside, barely able to remember why I believed what I did. I wonder at times if this church felt it too? The spiritual desert creeping in killing what once was. So what do you do? Christ gives us the best advice in verse 2. “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain…” Matthew Henry says this:

“Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground, and therefore must return to our watchfulness against sin, and Satan, and whatever is destructive to life and power of godliness” (13493).

There it is. That is when my spiritual blinders came of and I sighed with the relief that the cause of my spiritual desert had been exposed. I had been off my watch and because of it the enemy had advanced into sacred territory destroying what was not his. I lost ground, my fortress was weak and suddenly I looked around and said, “wait, where are the guards and why can’t I feel God?”

I stopped my watchfulness against the enemy. I allowed strongholds in my life to return and sinful natures and desires to creep back in. How did that happen you ask? Laziness. Lack of discipline. The prideful attitude that I had it under control. I wasn’t in the Word and wasn’t praying like I had been. I needed to return to my watchfulness. This would purify my heart and motives for doing things. It’s not that I don’t think that we shouldn’t go to church and do ministry when we don’t feel like it, it was that exact thing that allowed me to survive the spiritual desert. Rather He is cautioning against doing things just for the sake of doing things without the change of heart. Despite the fact that I could not “feel His presence” I continued to try to do things I knew would eventually cause me to walk out of the desert.

Upon returning to my watch, things are starting to feel more vibrant again. It’s not perfect yet. I’m fighting for ground that was lost. Warring over land in my heart that was stolen from me during that period of time when I was not on guard. It’s messy and painful but I know what happened. So now I am coming out of the desert and building a fortress. And so I am clinging to His promise in Revelation 3:5:

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”